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Preparations for smoking ban a hot topic


Nearly half of employers plan to change their smoking policies to comply with new legislation coming into force in summer 2007.

The survey of 173 organisations found that 45 per cent expect to have to alter their current approach when a ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces takes effect in England and Wales next year. It is already law in Scotland.

But 30 per cent of employers have already introduced policy changes over the past two years as pressure to protect workers from passive smoking began to build.
Employers are focusing on two main changes:

  • Banning smoking in employer-provided vehicles

  • Removing smoking rooms, sometimes replacing them with covered outdoor shelters.

The IRS research reveals that smoking restrictions are already widespread, with almost three out of four employers imposing a complete ban inside their buildings and just one in five providing an indoor smoking room. Under the new legislation, smoking rooms will be banned.

Public services such as hospitals and local authorities are most likely to have a complete ban, while manufacturers are more tolerant of smokers – 31 per cent of manufacturers currently provide a smoking room, compared with just 11 per cent of public service bodies.

Surprisingly it is much more common for the manufacturing sector to ask potential recruits whether they smoke when they apply for a job. Of the 20 per cent of respondents who ask the question, 30 per cent are in manufacturing, while only 6 per cent were from public service organisations.

The survey also shows that most employers already try to help staff who want to give up smoking. The most common approaches are:

  • Providing written information (71 per cent)

  • Advice from health professionals (69 per cent)

  • Free or subsidised smoking cessation programmes (40 per cent)

  • Free/subsidised nicotine replacement products (21 per cent)

  • Employee support groups (19 per cent)

  • Talks and videos (18 per cent).

Mark Crail, managing editor of IRS Employment Review, said: “Although many organisations already severely restrict people’s ability to smoke at work, the new law taking effect next summer will have a big impact.

“Smoking rooms will have to go, and those wanting to light up will have to go outside to do so.

“Even then, employers are increasingly unhappy with the sight of smokers huddled round the main entrances to their offices, and some are asking them to leave the premises altogether. The days of the smoking break could be numbered.”

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