Code to curb smoking

HSE recommends approved code of practice to limit the effects of passive
smoking in the workplace

The Health and Safety Commission has opted for an approved code of practice
to regulate passive smoking at work.

"We carefully considered the different options including continuing
with a voluntary approach, before deciding the best way of protecting the 3
million people still exposed to environmental tobacco smoke was through an
ACOP," said HSC chairman Bill Callaghan.

"It will enable everyone – employers and employees, smokers and
non-smokers – to know exactly where they stand with regard to workplace smoking
and ensure compliance with health and safety law.’

Callaghan was at pains to stress the HSC is not proposing a ban on workplace
smoking. "It is rather a recognition of the need to protect those workers
exposed to environmental tobacco smoke and to build on existing good
practice," he said.

The code would give authoritative guidance on employer obligations under
health, safety and welfare law regarding passive smoking at work.

It would have special legal force similar to that of the Highway Code.
Failing to follow the code would not be an offence in itself, but an employer
will need to demonstrate that equally effective measures have been adopted to
signal compliance with the law.

The move was welcomed by the TUC. "This is a sensible compromise which
will help cut down on staff turnover and sickness absence," it announced.

The recommendations now await government approval.

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