Policies 'must be based on concensus'

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The Independent Online

The Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry both argued yesterday that smoking policies operated by companies should be based on consensus.

Smokers should not suffer discrimination, a TUC spokeswoman said. "People should be paid for the job they do. If a company wants to improve health at work and discourage smoking, they should introduce a no-smoking policy in consultation with union representatives and employees."

The CBI said that any ban on smoking should be based on a majority vote among employees. Policies could range from a complete ban to the provision of special smoking areas. The confederation found in a recent survey that 85 per cent of companies had a policy on the habit. About one-third provided counselling.

Industrial Relations Services, a research group which has conducted extensive surveys on the issue, said companies in America often provided bonuses for people who had given up.

An IRS spokesman, John Ballard,said however that financial penalties for smokers were draconian and would simply anger employees.

Cash prizes for giving up were more acceptable, Mr Ballard said. One pharmaceutical company in Britain had started a "quit and win" campaign. Employees were offered pounds 1 a day for up to 64 days without a cigarette. They were also offered a "secret bonus" if still not smoking after the 64 days.