Unhealthy side effects

Banning
smoking in public places could have more unforeseen outcomes than the
Government thinks; consultation with all affected parties is the answer.
Compiled by Simon Kent

Nick Bish
Chief executive, The association of Licensed Multiple Retailers

There are clear commercial issues that face the industry on this matter and
I think it is wrong that such a decision should be made by a health
commissioner – be they the European Health Commissioner or the Department of Health
in this country. They have an agenda and an aspiration to cut passive smoking
but any decision to ban smoking outright is a cross departmental concern. There
are numerous angles to such a move. There is the commercial angle that will
concern the Department of Trade & Industry, the question of how this would
affect employment and even – through taxes paid on cigarettes – implications
for the Treasury.

You also need to consider the regulatory angle – how this ban can be framed
legally – the enforcement angle, and there are implications for areas such as
the promotion of tourism in the UK.

It is no appropriate for anything like this to be considered except in a
pan-departmental way. If you are going to consult with those departments, you
also need to engage with the key stakeholders affected by the measure, in this
case it will have most impact on the hospitality industry as our place of
employment is also where we do our business.

Companies already take the issue of smoking into account. They make decisions
as to how to manage smoking in their premises or whether to ban it entirely. We
support their decision whatever it may be. Such considerations demonstrate to
the UK and European governments that it is possible for organisations to deal
with this issue themselves. Each company should be able to make their own
decision and stand by that decision unless and until it proves to be the wrong
decision – in which case they can amend their own policy. The industry does not
want a decision on smoking or non-smoking forced down its throat.

It is all very well for the Health Commissioner to make his point and
express his desire to see a total ban, but there will be unforeseen outcomes so
he ought to engage with other agencies and departments in the process before
introducing any legislation.

He must consult with those who are going to be most affected. Employers and
companies are already moving on the issue – the industry has introduced
standards and policies and can adapt those initiatives, extend them, do all sorts
of things from the existing work. But we can’t do that unless we are able to
talk about it.

Margaret Elliott
Group personnel director, Ebac (dehumidifier manufacturing company)

A total ban is going to cause problems. We went from a policy
of smoking at your work station to no smoking other than the smoke rooms. We
involved smokers and non-smokers and took suggestions from both sides.
Non-smokers did not want to penalise the smokers and I felt that was
significant – non smokers don’t want to be near the smoke, and if there they
can sit somewhere smell-free, they are happy. We think the smoke rooms need to
be separate  from the manufacturing
areas to avoid non-smokers being affected by smoke.

Non-smoking legislation would be difficult to introduce, but if
it does ban smoking totally, employers are going to have a tough time managing
their smoking employees.

Su Beacham-Cacioppo
Personnel and training director, JD Wetherspoon

We are 100 per cent against a total ban on smoking, purely for
commercial reasons. People go to pubs and restaurants to have a cigarette or
cigar and as long as the pub has made the right provisions it does not need to
be a problem. At JD Wetherspoon we have an across-the-board policy on smoking
that applies to every pub. That policy is enforced in the proper way, without
being confrontational and is respected by our customers.  

We did not introduce our policy particularly to benefit staff
or customers but because it was commercially viable. You have to introduce
measures properly in order to combat smoking but a complete ban would be a
nightmare to introduce and police.  
Even anti-smoking campaigners appreciate that businesses have to run as
businesses.

Richard MacMillan
Managing director, Adecco

It is wrong for smoking to be allowed at desks and communal
areas of the workplace. However, smoking is the personal choice of each
employee and facilities should be provided for those who choose to smoke during
breaks.

There is an argument that allowing regular cigarette breaks
mean that smokers are not using their time as productively as their colleagues.
However, many smokers argue that breaks make them more productive and they
achieve more during the rest of the day. It is important that employers set out
clear guidelines and rules of when smoking is acceptable in the workplace.

Many innovative companies are trying to encourage and support
employees trying to kick the habit by offering to subsidise programmes that
help people to take the positive step of giving up smoking for good.

John Houghton
Pub operations director, InnVentures, Jennings Brothers’ leased and tenanted
pub division

A smoking ban in pubs would be harmful to trade and employment
as people are used to smoking in a social atmosphere.

Jennings does not directly run the outlets under its ownership
and places lessees in each pub. However, it is involved in the issues
surrounding smoking. It is, through various licensed groups such as the
Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and the British Beer and Pubs
Association, supporting the Charter Group, which is working with pub retailers
to improve the position on smoking in pubs.

Most Jennings pubs have implemented the Public Places Charter
informing customers, through signage, of the smoking and non-smoking facilities
so they can choose where to eat or drink.

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