EU plans draft legislation to ban smoking in the workplace

The
European Commission has announced plans to draw up new draft legislation that
would outlaw smoking at work.

The
move would bring a complete ban on smoking in workplaces a step closer. At the
moment, UK workplaces are only covered by a voluntary code of conduct, although
more and more businesses are going down the ‘no-smoking at work’ route.

According
to Occupational Health’s sister publication Personnel Today, European
commissioner for health, David Byrne, told delegates at a tobacco conference that
he intended to introduce Europe-wide legislation on the issue.

A
‘major initiative aimed at banning smoking in workplaces’ throughout the 15
countries of the EU was also being considered.

Byrne
said he was working with employment and social affairs commissioner, Anna
Diamontopoulou, to draw up the initiative, and that smoking at work was such a
serious issue that only a blanket ban would do.

"Passive
smoking may account for between 30,000 and 50,000 deaths every year in the EU.
I’m determined to exploit all possibilities that the [EU] Treaty offers to
achieve an EU-wide ban," he told delegates in Helsinki.

The
commission is understood to be looking at the possibility of basing a ban on
current European health and safety legislation.

Any
move would probably be pushing at an open door in the UK, despite opposition
from the hospitality industry.

A
poll by website HR Gateway found that three-quarters of HR professionals would
back a blanket ban on smoking at work.

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