The Health Act 2006 makes
provision for the introduction of legislation restricting smoking in
the work place and public places. The Smoke free Regulations are
expected to come into force on the 1st July 2007 and are presently
still in draft format. Whether they actually give impetus to New
Year resolutions to quit smoking remains to be seen!
The suggested intention behind the regulations is to protect those
who suffer from "second-hand smoke" or, to you and me, passive
According to statistics, smoking kills around 106,000 people a year
of which around 700 are as a result of passive smoking. Apparently 2
million people in great Britain still work in workplaces where
smoking is allowed throughout and another 10 million in places where
smoking is allowed somewhere on the premises.
So whilst the Government may dress up the purpose of the Regulations
as protecting those subject to passive smoking the statistics
suggest this is more to do with cutting down the opportunities of
individuals to smoke (perhaps even assisting those with the desire
to quit entirely) and thereby reducing the burden on the NHS.
Politics to one side, you as Employers now have to put the wheels in
motion to establish a "smoke free workplace". So what do the
Smoking will not be permitted in any workplace
which is "enclosed" or "substantially enclosed"
"enclosed" or "substantially enclosed" means
premises that have a ceiling or walls at least half the way
around, including doors and windows
Company vehicles must be smoke free (unless the
employee has the luxury of a convertible) except where it is only ever
to be used by one person with no passengers
"No Smoking" signs must be displayed (in
vehicles as well) which meet minimum requirements
a breach of the Regulations will constitute a
criminal offence - punishment a fine
there are some exemptions (with strict
restrictions) - mainly to those work places which is also a
person's home eg Residential Homes, hospices
Food for thought – out go the "smoking rooms" and in
come designated smoking areas outside - that in itself poses a few
How will this be monitored and controlled?
Do you have a signing in and out procedure to
cover the fact that people have left the building?
Is the designated area safe?
Will outside smoking areas have an adverse
impact on your corporate image?
And what about Company Cars? Some Employees' will
have the benefit of a Company car for personal use - does this now
mean an employee can no longer smoke in the car even outside working
hours? It is likely you will have to review your Company Car policy!
Perhaps an outright ban is the way forward? A victory to those who
don't smoke and who feel they have been discriminated against as
they don't get the "smoke breaks" which, invariably, are an addition
to the normal rest breaks. On the other hand it is a clear
retraction of a benefit which smoking employees may have enjoyed for
many years and a clear lack of understanding that some employees may
have a serious addiction which simply cannot be kicked over night.
The TUC is urging Employers to act now and to embark upon a period
of consultation with Unions and Employee representatives to put
together a workable but acceptable policy. The TUC suggest that the
aim of the policy should be:
To protect all staff from the harmful effects of
To ensure that all parties (employers, smokers
and non-smokers) have a clear understanding of their rights and
To ensure compliance with the law
Make no mistake - this is a golden opportunity to
address those niggling issues over smoke breaks (frequency and
length) and finally set out a clear policy to be adhered to.
Consider whether you already comply with law or
need to make changes
Set up a Task Group - made up of the Union, non
smokers and smokers, Human Resources and Senior Management
Consult the Workforce - The TUC recommends
sending a questionnaire to the workforce to establish the number
of smokers and ex smokers, the number who wish to give up,
attitudes to smoking in the organisation and opinions on smoke
breaks and outside smoking
Armed with the information develop a Policy
together with a proposed timetable for implementation
Review other Company policies such as the
Company Car Policy, the disciplinary procedure and the Health
and Safety policy
Consider offering assistance to those who wish
to give up smoking
Monitor and Evaluate the policy once implemented
If you require any advice or assistance in
developing or implementing your "Smoke Free Policy" please feel free
to contact Oliver
Copyright 2006 - 2010 Taylors Solicitors