Aberdeen City Council has imposed a ban on employees smoking during working hours, including in company cars. It plans to abolish all smoking rooms in council buildings and staff who are found to be smoking outside or anywhere else while they are working will be punished. Employees will not be allowed to smoke in any council vehicle, nor in any privately-owned car being used on council business. The council’s 11,500 staff will be offered help to quit smoking, in what is thought to be the first public sector organisation in Scotland to be imposing such a ban. Smoking staff will also be offered free health checks from the council’s occupational health provider. Richard Parker, director of personnel and organisational development at the council, said that the ban, which is expected to be introduced from April, is a result of the Scottish Executive’s recent report on the dangers of passive smoking. He added that he hopes the policy will lead to a reduction in staff turnover because it should be easier to recruit and retain workers if they can offer a smoke-free working environment, although he did not mention whether he felt the effect on smokers would affect these numbers. Parker also hopes that sickness absence levels will be reduced because less time would be lost due to smoking-related illnesses.