date: 26 June 2007
embargo: 00.01hrs Wednesday 27 June 2007
With the smoking ban in English workplaces only days away, the TUC is today (Wednesday) urging employers not to make life difficult for smokers by banning them from cigarette breaks, but to use the change in the law as an opportunity to help their staff get healthier and quit the habit.
From this Sunday, 1 July, all enclosed workplaces have to be smoke-free, and the TUC is concerned that in the rush to make sure that all the no smoking signs are up and smoking rooms shut down, employers may have forgotten about the best interests of their staff.
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Many smokers say they intend to use the introduction of the ban as the reason they've all been waiting for to give up. So this weekend looks like the perfect opportunity for employers to encourage staff to stop. But instead of help and support for employees, we've heard much talk of banning cigarette breaks and of demonising smoking staff more generally.
'Although some smokers will stub out their last cigarette this weekend, others will find it harder to do so. Employers may not want to see smokers on the street outside company buildings, but banning them from going outside is not the answer either. Bosses who crack down on fag breaks run the risk that staff will be tempted to light up in secret on company premises.
"A far better approach would be to help workers break the habit. Employers should run in-house stop smoking sessions, and offer staff who smoke patches, gum or hypnosis to encourage them to quit. The small cost of providing this would be more than offset by the individual health and business benefits of reducing the number of smokers within the workforce.'
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Issued: 27 June, 2007