Smoking in the Workplace

Laura Morrison Addiction, Employment, Substances

Today, 8th March 2017, is No Smoking Day, an annual campaign designed to help those who want to quit reduce or stop smoking altogether and raise awareness of support resources available. The campaign is supported by NHS, and many employers, and has ran since 1983, originally on Ash Wednesday as Quit for the Day.

As experts in Workplace Behavioural Health, we recognise that people smoking can be a concern for employers as they seek to improve employee wellbeing and ensure health and safety for all staff in line with legislation.

Those who smoke whether frequently or occasionally often do so to alleviate anxiety, to “feel better” and “reduce stress” using a highly addictive stimulant that is going to cause long term health damage and actually raise blood pressure and heart rate, which is then compounded by ongoing cravings for nicotine.

The law now places responsibilities on employers to prevent smoking in company buildings and vehicles by clearly displayed signs, and smoking rooms once found in every workplace are a distant relic of the past. Both employee and employer can be fined for any breaches, and some workplaces have clear policies which can lead to disciplinary action.

So how can we support colleagues to give up?

If you are an employer, a great place to start is with a policy on smoking, as this makes your stance and attitude clear to employees. You may also want to consider;

1) what support you’ll give to employees who want to quit;

2) whether workplace factors are contributing to your employees smoking, eg role models, culture, deadlines and exposure to stress and health and safety risk;

3) putting in place campaigns and tools to help employees manage their environment and stress in a healthy way;

4) building health and wellness into your reward and engagement strategy;

Whilst employers can encourage healthy behavioural change, the choice is always ultimately with the individual.

Equipping your managers with the ability to listen and take a “whole-life” approach can create a culture where employees have the confidence to share what may be causing them stress both inside and outside of work, so that any plan by the employee to reduce harmful behaviour such as smoking can be supported.

This may be seen as a progressive approach, and take time and investment to implement, however it’s one that can change a culture and reap benefits in employee satisfaction and productivity, not to mention minimising long term health risks such as COPD, asthma, heart disease, cancers and other illnesses triggered by smoking or passive smoking.

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Our primary purpose is to help organisations understand behavioural health conditions and guide their employees to a place of management, recovery and happiness, whilst supporting their business outcomes. With the right training, support and intervention, Salutem Health help your people and your organisation to flourish together.

For any enquiries regarding Behavioural Health policies, training, workshops and bespoke programmes for your organisation, please contact the Salutem Health team directly on 0207 9932060 or email – all enquiries will be dealt with in strict confidence.