Last reviewed on 28/11/2012 21:51

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The deadly cigarette

The dangers of smoking have been well-documented but despite medical advice, many people continue to smoke.

Smoking is a major contributor to Scotland's top three causes of death and major illness:

  • coronary heart disease
  • cancer
  • strokes

Smokers also tend to take more sick leave than non-smokers, making them - and so, the company - less productive.

As a result of The Smoking, Health and Social Care Act (Scotland) 2005 implemented on 26th March 2006, smoking has been banned in most workplaces and public areas. With few exceptions, smoking is banned in any premises that is wholly or partially enclosed; this also includes vehicles used for work, e.g. vans and taxis, etc.

Employers must ensure they display appropriate signage to indicate that the premises are no-smoking and must also indicate who they can report any breach to within the organisation. They should also set up and operate a smoking policy that suits both their needs and those of the employees.

The anti-social smoker

Due to the changes in Scotland with the introduction of the smoking ban, those who smoke feel even more 'anti-social' than before, and as a result may feel more discriminated against. This can lead to low moral and loss of productivity. They may also be tempted to smoke in cupboards, storerooms or other enclosed areas instead, increasing the risk of fire at work.

Exposing non-smokers to passive smoking (the breathing-in of environmental smoke, which can lead to lung cancer, etc.) may also be a cause of conflict and could also lead to legal action against you by an affected employee.

Smoking policies enable the employer to deal with this controversial and sensitive issue in a practical and effective way.

Smoking policies should not victimise smokers, but seek to eliminate or control the amount of employee exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. The main aims are to ensure that:

  • all parties - employers, smokers, non-smokers and the public - have a clear understanding of their rights and responsibilities; and
  • the workplace complies with any health and safety or other legislation.

A negotiated policy involving staff representatives is more likely to be enforceable and acceptable to the workforce. Including sources of information and help for those employees who wish assistance to stop smoking should be part of the smoking policy. There are various types of assistance available, from Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to smoking cessation groups and further details can be obtained in your local area.

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