Wales TUC urges employers to work with employees when making workplaces smoke-free

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Embargo: 00.01hrs Monday 2 April 2007

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Attention: Newsdesks, Education and Social Affairs Correspondents

Wales TUC urges employers to work with employees when making workplaces smoke-free

As the smoking ban comes into force in workplaces across Wales, the Wales TUC is today (Monday) publicising a guide for union safety reps to help them work with employers in bringing in the ban in a way that meets all the legal requirements, fully involves staff and doesn't persecute smokers.

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 Wales TUC.

The TUC guide reminds employers that there is much to think about when making a workplace smoke-free, especially because around a quarter of all UK workers smoke, though not necessarily at work. Before the ban in Wales, around two million people in the UK were employed in places where smoking was still allowed everywhere, and another ten million could smoke at least somewhere on the premises.

Employers should introduce smoking bans with the full involvement of staff and unions, says the Wales TUC. From today all Welsh 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 will have 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; and,

· states where employees can go for a smoke and what they should do with their cigarette ash and butts.

Wales TUC Head of Policy & Campaigns Derek Walker said: 'Thousands of Welsh employees, especially those working in bars, restaurants, clubs and pubs, are set to gain from today's smoking ban. With thought and proper consultation, making a workplace smoke-free can be a fairly painless experience, even for the most hardcore smokers. The key is the involvement of staff and our guide sets out how to do just that.'

'Negotiating smoke-free workplaces' says there is no need for employers to stop employees from smoking altogether, though companies might want to discourage groups of smokers from gathering outside, particularly if they are in company uniform. The guide also warns against using the ban as an excuse to stop employing smokers.

'Negotiating smoke-free workplaces' sets out the exemptions to the smoke-free regulations, suggests ways in which employers can help their staff quit and includes a draft smoking policy that employers can adapt to suit their individual workplaces.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- A copy of 'Negotiating smoke-free workplaces' is available at http://www.tuc.org.uk/h_and_s/tuc-13003-f0.cfm?regional=2

- The guide was issued to safety reps across Wales in February.

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

- Register for the TUC's press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet

Contacts:

Media enquiries : Derek Walker T: 029 2034 7010; M: 07887 797158;
E: dwalker@tuc.org.uk

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