Go Smokefree Early: New Advice Site Launched

Monday 24 July 2006

Media Release from ASH:  00.01hours Monday 24th July 2006
Campaigners are urging employers to “go smokefree early”. The move follows the Royal Assent for the Health Act 2006, which will make virtually all workplaces and enclosed public places smokefree from Summer 2007.

The Smokefree Action Coalition, which includes many of Britain’s leading health organisations [1], has produced a new website to help private, public and third sector organisations to introduce smokefree policies as soon as possible.

The website address is www.smokefreeaction.org.uk/archive/gosmokefreeearly.html

Key resources on the site include:

•           Why your workplace should go smokefree early

•           How to implement a smokefree policy

•           Advice for employees on exposure to secondhand smoke at work

•           Advice from Thompsons’ Solicitors

•           Sources of help for quitters.

Although the Health Act will not require enclosed public places to be smokefree for another year, employers who still allow smoking in enclosed workplaces are running serious risks under existing health and safety law. Any employee made ill by exposure to other people’s smoke at work could sue their employer for negligence, citing a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act [2]. Employers would be expected to know by now of the serious risks to health from secondhand smoke, set out for example in a major report by the Government’s Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health [3].

In 2004 more than ten million people across Great Britain still worked in places where smoking is allowed somewhere on the premises, and more than two million in places where smoking is allowed throughout the workplace [4].

Employers who bring in smokefree policies will also benefit from a healthier workforce, as many smokers will use the ending of smoking at work as a reason for them to quit. The result will be less sickness absence and higher productivity.  The Coalition advises all employers to consult with employees and their trade unions when bringing in smokefree policies and to make sure that any employee who does decide to quit is given helpful advice: the National Health Service now runs probably the best Stop Smoking services in the world.

ASH spokesman Ian Willmore comments:

“The Health Act will soon require virtually all workplaces and enclosed public places to go smokefree.  But there is no good reason for employers to wait for the Act to come into force. Our website gives you the information you need to help make your workplace smokefree as soon as possible. That will ensure a healthier workplace for staff and customers – and avoid any legal risks for employers. Everyone gains from smokefree policies – take action today!”


Ian Willmore                020 7739 5902 (w) 07887 641344 (m)

Carol Lever                 020 7739 5902


Notes and links:

[1] Including the Royal College of Physicians, British Medical Association, Asthma UK, Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation, National Heart Forum, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, ASH, Smokefree Liverpool and others.

[2] Legal Implications of exposing workers to secondhand smoke www.smokefreeaction.org.uk/archive/gosmokefreeearly.html

[3] Scoth report

[4] Half the workforce still exposed to smoke. New figures show workplace health divide, ASH press release, 24 April 2006