The TUC is urging English employers to get their act together to beat the smoking ban, which comes into force on 1 July. The call follows the start of the smoking ban in Wales on 2 April.
Every year around 700 workers die as a result of second-hand smoke inhaled at their place of work, and passive smoking is also responsible for thousands of episodes of illness amongst UK employees, says the TUC, which has published a new guide for union reps.
The TUC guide reminds employers that there is much to think about before any workplace can become smoke-free, especially because around a quarter of all UK workers smoke, though not necessarily at work.
But despite the looming ban, around two million people are employed in places where smoking is still allowed everywhere, and another ten million can smoke at least somewhere on the premises.
Employers should introduce smoking bans with the full involvement of staff and unions, says the TUC. By 1 July all English workplaces will have to display non-smoking signs at all entrances and in any company vehicles, all smoking rooms will have to disappear and the issue of breaks for smokers who need to go outside to light up also needs to be considered.
The guide advises that every workplace should draw up a smoking policy which:
- Protects all staff and members of the public from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke
- Does not stigmatise or discriminate against smokers and offers hardened nicotine addicts help in giving up if they want to quit
- Sets out clearly what will happen to employees who flout the workplace ban
- States where employees can go for a smoke and what they should do with their cigarette ash and butts.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “With less than three months to go before smoking is outlawed in all English workplaces and public spaces, employers don’t have much time to get their act together. But with a little thought and forward planning, making a workplace smoke-free can be a fairly painless experience, even for the most hardcore smokers.”