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Tobacco remains a major cause of ill-health and premature death in Scotland, causing skills and productivity losses among the workforce.
Employers can help improve Scotland's health record in this regard by promoting tobacco awareness and supporting employees to quit.
Tobacco remains the major preventable cause of ill health and premature death in Scotland, accounting for more than 13,500 smoking-related deaths each year (1). However, the prevalence of smoking varies greatly across the population, acknowledged by a range of studies, for example:
As well as the health effects of smoking, the annual cost of employee smoking in Scotland is approximately £450m due to lost productivity, £40m due to absenteeism, and £4m as a result of fire damage (5).
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There are potential costs and savings to employers from encouraging and supporting employees to quit smoking using effective and evidence-based interventions.
Employers are not legally obliged to help employees to stop smoking, however, employers that do provide cessation support could reduce the risk of non-compliance with the law (Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2006), as well as taking advantage of the opportunity it offers to improve people’s health.
They will also benefit from reduced sickness absence and increased productivity. Health Improvement Programmes delivered through the workplace can make a major contribution to improving Scotland’s health and reducing health inequalities.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines introduced in 2007 recommend the following action employers should take to help employees stop smoking:
Employees who wish to stop smoking should:
→ View NICE guidance on smoking at work (external site)
Health Scotland Publications Note: links are to pages on the Health Scotland website giving options to download these publications. They are also available to order from your local health board.
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