• General

    Smoking in the Workplace

     

    Smoking is the greatest single preventable cause of disease and premature death in Wales.

    Furthermore, evidence shows that the health of people who don’t smoke can be seriously harmed by the effects of second-hand tobacco smoke (passive smoking).

    In adult non-smokers, exposure to second hand smoke can increase the risk of lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory disorders.  In children, it can cause respiratory disorders, cot death, middle ear infection and asthma attacks.

    To protect people in Wales from these harmful effects the National Assembly for Wales introduced the Smoke-free Premises etc. (Wales) Regulations 2007, which came into effect on 02 April 2007.

    The effect of this law was that employees, customers and visitors were no longer allowed to smoke within a business or organisation’s premises if the premises were ‘enclosed’ or ‘substantially enclosed’.

    There are very few exemptions to the smoking ban.  The law affects most public places and also workplaces and work vehicles.

    Failure to comply with the law is a criminal offence, as set out in the Health Act 2006, and is dealt with as a public health matter, with authorised officers within each local authority enforcing the law.

    In addition to its duties under the Smoke-free Premises etc. (Wales) Regulations 2007, the Council has also taken into consideration its responsibilities to its employees and others under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and its commitment to the Welsh Assembly Government Corporate Health Standard initiative, which has at its core the health and wellbeing of employees.

    As a result the Council developed and implemented its Policy HS18 - Smoking in the Workplace.  Under this Policy, people are only allowed to smoke on Council premises in designated external smoking areas, which are to be located away from doors and windows to prevent smoke entering the building and affecting other people.  It should be noted that it may not be practicable for some workplaces to provide designated external smoking areas.   

    Furthermore, employees can only smoke in their own time, i.e. they must ‘sign out’ on a break to do so.

    Although not covered under the law, the restrictions on smoking tobacco whilst at work as set out in Policy HS18 apply equally to ‘e-cigarettes’. 

    There are a number of reasons for this: 

    • for example, although some people may feel that e-cigarettes could help them to give up smoking, they are not marketed as aids to stop smoking and as such are not regulated as are other aids, such as nicotine patches. 
    • furthermore, some give off a vapour about which little is currently known, either in respect of its effect on health, or the possibility of it activating a smoke detector forming part of a fire alarm system. 
    • there is also the negative impact on the Council’s corporate image to consider if it appeared that it allowed employees to smoke in places prohibited by law, as well as the possibility of someone smoking a real cigarette but if seen claiming it was an e-cigarette.    

    The Council recognises that some smokers may have difficulty in complying with the law and Policy HS18, and will provide advice and support to those who wish to stop smoking.

    However, any employee found contravening the law or Policy HS18 will be dealt with under the Council’s Disciplinary Procedure.

    Advice on smoking at work can be obtained from the Health and Safety Team, Tŷ Elai, Williamstown, CF40 1NY, telephone number 01443 425546.

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