No more fag breaks: Council bosses tell staff they have 'no right to smoke' during working hours

A policy document issued to staff said that they had 'no right to smoke'

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The Independent Online

Cigarette breaks could be a thing of the past for workers at a county council which is planning to ban staff from smoking during working hours.

Nottinghamshire County Council, which employs 9,000 people, intends to stop staff from smoking at anytime during paid working hours, even during short breaks.

The ban, which also includes e-cigarettes, will extend to any authority owned buildings, land and vehicles and staff will face internal disciplinary action if they fail to comply. 

A policy document issued to staff on Tuesday said that they had “no right to smoke”, according to the Nottingham Post.

The council’s deputy director of public health, John Tomlinson said that the prosed ban aims to promote better health in the area.

“We are trying to be a supportive employer and have a duty of care to protect the health of our employees as part of a wider remit to take a leading role in promoting better health in Nottinghamshire,” he said.

The council said it would encourage staff to attend smoking cessation services and use alternatives such as nicotine patches to break their habit.

Tomlinson added: “National research suggests that staff who smoke take more time off work to have breaks and have more sick leave through respiratory problems.”

He also suggested that staff who give up smoking will be better role models for children, who are less likely to take up smoking if their parents are non-smokers.

A council employee, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Nottingham Post: “It’s ridiculous. You can go to McDonalds and get ten burgers on flexi-time but I can't use my e-cigarette which has recently been recognised as a productive nicotine replacement therapy.“

Unions have said they say they will ballot their members on whether to take a stand against the plans, which are likely to be enforced in early 2016.

Brian Fitzpatrick, Unison service director for Nottinghamshire, said: “It’s pretty stringent. It does seem extremely strict. We are putting it to our member ship and we will ask them how they feel about it.”

The plan would only allow staff to smoke in their official paid lunch break, while off-site and not in council uniform, according to the union.

Smoking in enclosed workspaces has been banned in the UK since 2007 and there are plans to extend bans to public outdoor spaces.

The Ministry of Justice is also drawing up plans to ban smoking in several jails.

Additional reporting by Associated Press