Employers urged to start work on smoking ban now

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date: 5 October 2006

embargo: 00.01hrs Friday 6 October 2006

Employers in England are today (Friday) being urged by the TUC not to wait until next summer before banning smoking in their workplaces. Employers should already be thinking about how to protect their staff by outlawing the poisonous fumes responsible for the deaths of around 700 workers a year, says the TUC.

From Summer 2007, all workplaces in England - with a few minor exceptions - must be smoke-free or employers will face prosecution.

In a guide published today - to coincide with the closing date for submissions on the draft smoking regulations - the TUC says that rather than put off the inevitable for a few months, employers should be sitting down now with employees to work out the most sensible ways of implementing the new smoke-free regulations.

In 'Negotiating smoke-free workplaces', the TUC says that around a quarter of all employees smoke. Most workers are already employed in factories, shops and offices that are free from tobacco smoke, but some two million work in establishments where smoking is still permitted everywhere, and another ten million where smoking is allowed somewhere on the premises.

The TUC guide says that every workplace should have a smoking policy - drawn up in consultation with staff - that protects smokers from persecution and offers them help giving up. It also needs to cover what happens to persistent smokers who breach the ban as well as breaks for staff who will soon have to go outside to light up.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'For every month that employers wait to introduce a ban more employees will die or become seriously ill as a result of second-hand smoke at work.

'With around 700 workers dying every year from smoking-related diseases caused by passive smoking at work, there is no sensible reason why employers can't be sitting down with staff now to talk about how the ban will happen and how to make every workplace a safer, healthier place to be.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

'Negoiating smoke-free workplaces' is available at http://www.tuc.org.uk/h_and_s/tuc-12227-f0.cfm

Smoking was banned in Scottish workplaces in March this year. The smoking ban is likely to come into force in Welsh workplaces next Spring.

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

Contacts:

Media enquiries: Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248; M: 07778 158175; E: media@tuc.org.uk

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