As a ban on workplace smoking looms, a new survey shows that the UK has the lowest smoking rate out of 10 European countries.
The poll of more than 14,000 workers across the continent also reveals that the workplace ‘fag break’ is a source of serious division between smokers and their non-smoking colleagues.
The Kelly Services World at Work survey shows that only 13% of UK workers admit to taking time out for smoking breaks while at work. Norway recorded Europe’s highest rate of workplace smoking at 26%, followed by France (23%), Germany and Italy (22%).
Of those who do smoke at work, most took smoking breaks one to three times a day, causing tension among non-smoking staff.
Nearly half (45%) of all non-smokers in the UK survey believe that smoking breaks result in decreased productivity. Older workers are far less tolerant of smoking breaks, with 61% saying it reduces productivity.
The findings coincided with the start of a three-month government consultation period on a smoking ban in public places and workplaces across the UK.
The government has denied reports that it would opt for an outright ban. Its proposal, published in a White Paper last year, instead suggested that pubs which do not serve hot food would be exempt from a ban.
But the British Medical Association’s deputy chairman, Dr Sam Everington, said: “Whether someone works in an office or a non-food pub, they have a right to have their health protected at work.”