Council cleans up image by banning smoke breaks

A London council is set to ban staff from taking smoking breaks during the working day.

From 1 July, Brent Council will oulaw smoking outside the workplace, except before and after work and during lunch breaks.

Rowena Degouttes, senior employee relations adviser and architect of the scheme, said managers were concerned that groups of people smoking outside the building were bad for the council’s image.

Degouttes said the initial reaction to the plan had been positive and the council would support employees who want to give up smoking by offering them nicotine replacement therapy.

Ben Willmott, employee relations adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said the ban was likely to be followed by a lot of employers.

“The writing is on the wall for smoking at work,” he said. “In 1974, 51% of men and 41% of women smoked. Now 25% of people smoke and 70% of those would like to give up altogether, so moves like this would help.”

However, Willmott said that organisations planning to ban smoke breaks should consult staff to test how strong the feeling is.

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