New research shows that smokers are less productive at work. ASH calls for Government to bring in long-delayed guidance on smoking at work.

Tuesday 04 September 2001

ASH press release


Embargo: 00:01 Wednesday 5 September 2001



Smokers are less productive: ASH calls on Government to act on passive smoking at work.


In response to new research published today showing that smokers take 3 times more sick leave than non-smokers and are less productive when they are there [1], ASH commented that it should come as no surprise that smoking – the biggest preventable killer in the country – affects productivity.  Addiction to nicotine leads to huge health problems, more sick leave, and means that non-smoking staff have to take up the slack.


ASH once again called on the government to advance the long-delayed Approved Code of Practice on passive smoking at work and to ignore misguided fears that smoking policies at work cause additional ‘red tape’ .


Clive Bates, Director of ASH, said:


“It’s time employers recognised the fact that health and industrial competitiveness are fundamentally linked.  Ignoring thehealth and welfare of staff is not only poor employment practice, it’s also bad for business.


The Government’s Small Business Service has consistently opposed any measures to deal with smoking in the workplace. It hasn’t got its head round the fact that by doing so, it is promoting illness and poor productivity and ultimately increasing costs. It also leaves employers vulnerable to being sued by employees who are made ill by passive smoke at work.


The Small Business Service’s motto is “Think Small First” – it’s a pity that they’ve taken this literally in thinking small about smoking in the workplace.”




[1] Halpern, MT et al. Impact of smoking status on workplace absenteeism and productivity. Tobacco Control 2001; 10: 233-238


For further information on the health effects of passive smoking and the case for smoking policies in the workplace see:


ASH passive smoking page:


ASH workplace menu:



Contact Clive Bates: 020 7739 5902 (office) 0776879 1237 (mobile).

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