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Smoking in the workplace

Workplace Health logoSmoking is the biggest cause of preventable death in England. It accounts for nearly 78,000 deaths each year. Around half of all life-long smokers will die from their habit. Smokers die, on average, ten years younger than non-smokers.


Cost of smoking to businesses

  • Smoking costs UK business £8.7 billion per year, due to sick leave and smoking breaks.
  • Smokers take between 1 and 2.7 more sick days off per year than non-smokers, and take more breaks during the working day.

This equates to 136 hours of lost productivity every year for the average smoker - costing the average business £1,522 in unproductive wages (CEBR, 2014).


Most smokers would like to quit

Most people who smoke want to give up.  CEBR (2014) found that smokers would welcome the support of their employer to help them to quit smoking:

  • 71% said they would find free information on quitting smoking useful

  • 67% say they would like their employers to promote campaigns like Stoptober and No Smoking Day


What employers can do to support a smokefree workplace

Here is a useful checklist of what businesses can do in relation to smoking and tobacco, to ensure that legal obligations are met:

  • management are aware of their duties under smoke-free legislation and are in compliance

  • all staff are aware of the smoke-free and tobacco control laws and how they are applied in their workplace

  • sources of further information and support to quit smoking are readily available to staff – such as the promotion of the Better Health - Quit Smoking and Stoptober campaigns

  • a working smoke-free policy is in place and staff are aware of it.

  • the smoke-free policy extends to all smoking habits including e-cigarettes


Support in Staffordshire

Everyone Health

Everyone Health offer a free healthy workplace service to businesses in Staffordshire, to support their employees to stay healthy.  This includes support to stop smoking.  Please note, some restrictions may apply.


Evidence review of e-cigarettes

Public Health England have recently undertaken an evidence review of e-cigarettes, and found that:

  • vaping poses only a fraction of the risks of smoking – so e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking

  • switching completely from smoking to vaping has substantial health benefits

  • e-cigarettes contribute to at least 20,000 successful quit attempts a year

  • many smokers incorrectly believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking

Why not give your employees the facts on e-cigarettes by sharing Public Health England’s YouTube video: e-cigarettes v cigarettes.

Also, take a look at the will you permit or prohibit e-cigarette use on your premises guide produced by ASH and CIEH, which sets out five key questions to ask yourself before deciding whether you will permit e-cigarette use on your premises. 

Have a look at the resources section below for some great websites, campaigns and resources that you can use to encourage your employees to go smokefree.


Preventing the sale of illicit ('dodgy') tobacco in the workplace

There are three sources of illicit tobacco:

  • smuggled
  • bootlegged (a form of smuggling)
  • counterfeit tobacco 'fakes'

Trading Standards and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will take action against individuals who use the workplace to sell illicit tobacco. This means:

  • individuals could lose their job

  • their house and vehicle could be searched, not just their locker

  • illicit tobacco products and any vehicles used to store and transport these goods will be seized

  • they can receive an unlimited fine and / or up to seven years imprisonment


The manager of premises can also be fined:

  • for ‘turning a blind eye’ to sales of illicit tobacco products on their premises

  • they can be prohibited from selling tobacco products for up to 6 months

If you or your employees have concerns about the sale of illicit tobacco in your workplace, report it to Staffordshire Trading Standards’ Fight the Fakes hotline.

Please note: they pass intelligence on to HMRC where relevant.


Resources to promote a smokefree workplace

Below are some useful resources, websites and campaigns to help you support your employees to stop smoking.

Campaigns, websites and apps:

There is a lot of free stop smoking support that your employees can access from the 'Better Health - Quit smoking' campaign.

This includes the NHS smokefree app which provides daily support and motivation. If people stay smokefree for the 4 week programme they’re up to five times more likely to stay quit for good. There’s also lots of other free support on offer, from emails, SMS, and texts, so something to suit everyone. Millions of people have already used this support to help them stop smoking.

Get your employees involved in this great campaign. Stoptober is the 28-day stop smoking challenge that encourages and supports smokers across England towards quitting for good. 

Stoptober encourages smokers to prepare to quit from the 1 October, by using the range of free resources and support available. The campaign continues to recruit smokers to take part throughout the whole of October.

Order or download some free Stoptober resources like posters and social media assets, to promote the campaign in your workplace.

  • No Smoking Day

This takes place on the second Wednesday of March every year. It’s another great opportunity to encourage quit attempts amongst your employees who smoke.

The website provides loads of fact sheets, law guides and information on a range of tobacco-related topics, including smokefree policies and tobacco regulation.

This website includes some useful tips and advice on stopping smoking, including using e-cigarettes and ways to stop smoking without putting on weight.

There are an increasing number of health and wellbeing apps available. We are making it easier for you and your employees to find apps that can help you to stay healthy and well with our health and wellbeing app finder tool. This includes the top rated apps for stopping smoking. 

Staffordshire Connects is our easy to use directory. It provides details about hundreds of different care, support and wellbeing organisations, local activities, clubs and community groups taking place across Staffordshire.

You can find a range of support services to help you stop smoking within the 'Adults and Communities' section, under 'Health and Wellness'.


Get in touch

Let us know what you’re doing in your workplace on smoking by emailing WorkplaceHealth@staffordshire.gov.uk.

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