Employers help staff quit smoking in response to ban

Leading employers, including Asda and The Carphone Warehouse, are taking steps to help staff quit smoking in response to the workplace ban which came into effect in Wales on 2 April and which goes live in England in July .

Under the terms of the Health Act 2006, smoking will be banned in all enclosed and partially-enclosed areas that are used as workplaces, which includes company cars used by more than one employee.

Asda launched monthly alternative therapy sessions such as hypnotherapy and acupuncture for all employees in March in a bid to help its 140,000 staff stop smoking. The supermarket giant has also set up employee support networks around the country, which will meet regularly and enable members to offer one another support. Both initiatives have also been put in place in Wales where the workplace smoking ban came into effect on 2 April.

The retailer believes it has a responsibility to offer employees support while trying to quit. Christina Pocklington, cause-related marketing manager, said: “We’re not trying to preach, it is very much their own choice, but we want to help them because soon it will be harder for them to smoke [at work].”

No-smoking charities agree that employers should to be doing their part to encourage employees to kick the habit. Ruth Bosworth, director of services at the charity Quit, said: “Employers have no legal obligation to support their employees to stop smoking, but those who do will be able to reap the benefits of a healthier [and more productive] workforce.”

The Carphone Warehouse has also taken steps to encourage employees to quit. It took advantage of national No Smoking Day, which took place on 14 March, to invite employees at its London-based head office to use a lung-monitoring device which detects the extent of damage caused by smoking. Staff were also given details about local NHS support groups that help members keep off the habit.

Public relations firm Penrose Financial, also used the day to encourage staff to quit by handing out free Nicorette patches to employees that required them.