Smoking ban proves that Irish are nation of quitters

Some Irish employers are offering staff ‘quit smoking’ programmes and
nicotine patches following the country’s ban on smoking in all workplaces,
including pubs and restaurants.

James Foley, personnel health manager with Ireland’s Electricity Supply
Board (ESB), said the ban provided an impetus for the state-owned company to
increase its commitment to its stop-smoking programmes.

Employees have been offered a supply of nicotine patches, sessions with a
hypnotist and copies of Allen Carr’s book The Easy Way to Stop Smoking.

Some companies are even offering £30-worth of nicotine patch starter packs
for employees who sign up to company-sponsored smoking cessation programmes,
but the transition to non-smoking workplaces generally went smoothly as most
employers had already introduced smoking restrictions or bans over the past
five years.

A more controversial issue has been policing the section of the Public
Health Act, which prohibits employees smoking in vehicles provided by their
employer as these are designated as workplaces.

Many companies have circulated these regulations to staff, but few intend
mounting weekly checks of ashtrays in company cars and vans.

While the smoking ban has caused little trouble in most workplaces, it
caused a political storm at the Irish parliament when, within a day of its
introduction, the opposition Fine Gael justice spokesman, John Deasy smoked
three cigarettes in the members’ bar of the Dail (House of Commons) as a
protest. Party leader Enda Kenny dismissed him from his front-bench position.

The only workplace exemptions allowed are in prisons, psychiatric hospitals
and care homes for the elderly (in individual rooms).

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in Ireland last week
issued guidelines to its members to clearly explain the new law and the risk of
£1,800 fines.

Norway and The Netherlands are expected to follow the Irish in implementing
total bans on smoking in the workplace within the next two years.

By Gerald Flynn, in Dublin

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