Glossy magazines and tabloids lost no time adding a touch of glamour to the smoking ban after it came into effect on 1 July, with reports of the ‘smirting’ craze – where hardened smokers gather outside pubs, bars and clubs to smoke and flirt with each other through the smog – sweeping across the UK.
Not all smokers are having as much fun, however. Figures from Smokefree England show that around 70% of smokers say they want to stop smoking, and three months into the ban, an increasing number of employers are putting in place smoking cessation programmes and other support to help staff overcome their habit.
Research from the Royal College of Physicians and lobby group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) suggests that smoking breaks cost employers £4bn and 30 million days in lost productivity each year – all of which adds up to a strong business case to support your staff in their attempts to quit.
Life coach Rosy Maria of Secret Success, a firm offering smoking cessation workshops, says: “Given these statistics, it is clear businesses can be adversely affected by smoking. Some action on the part of the employer could reap significant rewards in terms of both productivity and employee health.”
She adds that while employer support for workers who wish to kick the habit should not be compulsory, it can certainly be mutually beneficial.
Although the introduction of the smoking ban has provided an incentive for many long-term smokers to kick the habit for good, many smokers are reluctant to give up for fear of nicotine cravings and weight gain, so employers should suggest methods that will help staff to avoid these side effects.
“Providing support for smokers who want to quit could be an additional employee benefit,” adds Maria. “You are making a worthwhile investment in helping staff find other methods to stop smoking.”
Top tips – an employee perspective
- Make sure your employees really want to quit smoking. It’s no good if they’re only half committed, because it just won’t work.
- Why not offer to put money towards any stop-smoking sessions for your employees? I can’t think of a better way to build a great relationship with them than to help them stub out, not to mention the benefits of having a healthier workforce.
- There’s never a right time to quit, so encourage your employees to avoid using excuses such as ‘it’s not the right time’, ‘I’m too stressed at the moment’, ‘I’m not ready to quit’, ‘I don’t want to put on weight’, etc.
- Encourage your employees to repeat the techniques they’re taught at any smoking cessation session or workshop throughout their working day.
- Sending employees to a workshop helps them understand the myths surrounding smoking, and explains addiction and how it works.
Source: Kellie, ex-smoker