A Smoke Free Environment
Employers have a legal obligation to protect the health of all employees and since July 1st 2007 smoking has been banned from all public places including places of work and leisure. Many employers have chosen to go the extra mile and have banned smoking from their entire site, this includes stopping employees taking smoke-breaks during working hours.
Smoking is a chronic habit and many people may be addicted smokers. This can have negative effects on their own health and that of their co-workers if they become exposed to second hand tobacco smoke. Many people will have tried and failed to quit, some may well have modified their habit to enable them to cope with the smokefree working environment and importantly many would like support to stop and stay stopped.
Having a smokefree policy can create a safer working environment, improve workers’ health, reduce tensions between smokers and non-smokers and demonstrate your commitment to the wellbeing of all your staff and customers.
Why encourage a smoke free environment at work?
An average smoker may take six, 10-minute smoke breaks each day. That’s an hour of work lost for each smoker employed. Five hours per smoker per week!
Non-smokers may resent the number of additional breaks their smoking colleagues take and take additional breaks themselves. Due to these tensions staff moral and productivity may suffer. Smokers are more likely to be ill and take longer to recover placing additional strain on a business. Secondhand smoking may damage the health of non-smokers leading to sickness and loss of productivity. Smoking increases fire risk and so insurance premiums will be higher. Many non-smokers avoid places where smoking is allowed. More than 70% of people are non-smokers and generally they have more money to spend because they don’t smoke.
Quitting smoking has long standing effects on the health and wellbeing of the smoker by removing the toxic chemicals from the body which cause illness and disease. The effects are also seen in the number of absences due to illness as the smoker is statistically proven to access health care more frequently than a non-smoker. For those around the smoker, at home and in social situations, break time etc, the non-smoker can be exposed to high levels of the toxins produced by tobacco smoke and their susceptibility to smoking related diseases can increase to a level of around 25% of that of the smoker.
Young children and expectant mothers are particularly susceptible to the effects of second hand smoke with around 1700 hospital admissions each year for children under the age of five due to the exacerbation of conditions such as asthma.
Benefits to Employers
- Less sickness absence due to the harmful effects of smoking.
- A fitter more active employee.
- A reduction in smoke-break absenteeism.
- Increased on-the-job productivity, just think of the cost of all those ‘smoke breaks’.
- Improved working relationships and morale.
- Reduced sickness due to ill health.
Benefits to Employees
- Less illness in smokers and non-smokers
- More disposable income available for smokers who quit
- Improved fitness levels
- Reduced risk to loved ones from second hand smoke
- Longer life expectancy