Non-smokers demand pay cut for 'slacker' smokers

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The Independent Online
OFFICES AND factories have become hotbeds of smouldering discontent because non-smokers think their smoking colleagues are slackers, according to a new survey.

Smokers, already ostracised for their anti-social habit, could also be hit in the pocket if their tobacco-free colleagues have their way. More than one in three believes the pay of smokers should be docked to compensate for the time they spend on cigarette breaks, the polling organisation Gallup has found.

Even among smokers, 27 per cent voted for their own pay to be cut.

Gallup, which conducted the survey of 2,000 workers for Nicorette, makers of nicotine chewing gum, admitted the finding was unexpected.

The survey showed half of non-smokers believe smokers do less at work, compared with 15 per cent of the smokers who were prepared to admit to being slackers.

Gay Sutherland, clinical psychologist at the National Addiction Centre, London, said: "Clearly there are bad feelings between smokers and non- smokers with non-smokers feeling the smokers are not pulling their weight. It may be true that people are smoking rather than getting on with their work but the best way to help them is to get them to quit. That benefits everybody."

The survey showed 72 per cent of people thought employers would do better to help people stop smoking rather than provide smoking rooms or force them to go outside. However, nine out of 10 backed bans on smoking in the workplace, including eight out of 10 smokers.

Fifty-eight per cent believed loitering smokers and decaying butts gave their workplace a bad image. There were 72 per cent who said employers should help smokers to kick the habit by providing counselling and education.

But FOREST, which promotes equal rights for smokers, believed they should be accommodated in the work place. "The findings are out of step with current management thinking on smoking policies and the accusation that smokers take more breaks is unsubstantiated," said spokes- man Martin Ball.

He recommended companies installed smoking rooms with telephones and work stations to allow employees to puff and work simultaneously.

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