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Smoking in the workplace

Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable death in England.  It accounts for 78,000 deaths each year.  

Around half of all life-long smokers will die from their habit. Dying on average, ten years younger than non-smokers.

Cost of smoking to businesses

In 2014, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) estimated that smoking costs UK business £8.7 billion per year, due to sick leave and smoking breaks.

Their research found that 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!

Most smokers would like to quit

Most people who smoke want to give up, and 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 Smokefree and campaigns like Stoptober.
  • 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.

New 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: 1) smuggled, 2) bootlegged (a form of smuggling), and 3) 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:

  • Managers can be fined for ‘turning a blind eye’ to sales of illicit tobacco products on their premises
  • Shop and licensed premises Managers 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.  (They pass intelligence on to HMRC where relevant).

Resources to promote a smokefree workplace

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

Borrow our Stop Smoking Resources to support your Health Event

If you would like to borrow a selection of eye-catching stop smoking resources to generate interest in your workplace health event or for a smoking display then email: WorkplaceHealth@staffordshire.gov.uk 

The resources include: a Jar of Tar, Healthy/Unhealthy Lungs, a What’s in Tobacco Smoke Display Box, a Smoker’s Mouth, a Benefits of Not Smoking 3D Display and a Smoking Blocks your Blood Vessels Model.


There’s loads of free stop smoking support that your employees can access. 

The NHS Smokefree app 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 Smokefree 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 utilising 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 Stoptober posters and conversation starter leaflets, to promote the campaign in your workplace.

No Smoking Day

No Smoking Day takes place on the second Wednesday of March every year (in 2019 it’s on the 13March), and it’s another great opportunity to encourage quit attempts amongst your employees who smoke.

Smokefree Health Harms Campaign

Now in its seventh year, the Smokefree Health Harms campaign continues to encourage smokers to stop smoking this New Year.

There’s loads of free resources and support available to help people to quit for good.

One You – Smoking

The One You website provides loads of information on a range of smoking topics, such as smoking and your family, the health benefits of stopping smoking, and how to handle cravings.

ASH (Action on Smoking and Health)

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

NHS Choices – Stop Smoking

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

Staffordshire Connects – Health and Wellbeing Planner

The Health and Wellbeing Planner that is found on Staffordshire Connects is an excellent tool that your employees can use to find local (Staffordshire) and national advice, information and support on a range of health and wellbeing related issues, such as alcohol, healthy eating, mental health, physical activity and stopping smoking.   

They can use the Health and Wellbeing Planner to help them make some positive, healthy changes to their lives, by identifying what they want to achieve, what they can do differently to achieve their goal, and understanding what advice and support will help them along the way.

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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