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Help smokers to quit and avoid a fine

Building bosses should help their teams stub it out, says Stuart Norman

Spare a thought for the poor site manager. Since the new smoking regulations came into law at the beginning of July this year, it has become his, or her, responsibility to tell workers to stub it out.

England is now officially smoke-free in enclosed public spaces. This is deemed to be any space with a roof and surrounded by more than 50 per cent walls. How this is interpreted on site is now down to the site manager.

It is quite a responsibility when you consider that any worker caught smoking in a place regarded to be an enclosed space will be fined £50. Add to this the fact that companies will also then face a £2,500 penalty if one of their workers is caught in the act with a lit cigarette in their hand, and the responsibility begins to become quite a headache.

Those of you who have sought to accommodate smokers by building special shelters will already know that these structures require planning permission. So, not only do they cost money, they also involve some time-consuming effort and negotiation.

Then, of course, you have to consider whether there is a roof and how many walls there are surrounding this structure – and whether or not the smoke is able to drift into any nearby offices. Just thinking about this makes me want to reach for the aspirins.

Maybe now is the time to consider treating the cause, rather than the symptom, of this headache in order to prevent further migraines further down the line.

With construction workers making up a far greater number than the national average of adults who smoke, it is clearly time for building bosses to adopt a more pro-active approach in helping their workforce finally kick the habit. After all, when you factor in the £2,500 charge against the company for every worker who gets caught, it does start to make sense.

All those companies who have paid lip service to being employee-friendly – and I’m thinking of all those construction companies who line up to register themselves for the annual ‘best companies to work for’ lists – please take note. Now is the time to employ even more practical means to show your support for what is probably around 40 per cent of your total workforce.

You have catered for your non-smokers by imposing the Government’s smoking ban but, without actually offering some support to the smokers, this is perhaps not even-handed.

Again, at the risk of hammering the point home, we are in an industry which is recorded as having a particularly high number of smokers, so we have a duty.

Many smokers reportedly wanted to use the July ban as an opportunity to give up smoking. If we veer away from the cynical thought that it’s only the die-hards who are now left lighting up, and that they’ll insist in carry on smoking whatever, then why not try and do something positive to help them?

Stay ahead of the game and consider innovative ideas such as offering to subsidise methods of quitting smoking for all of your workforce by funding treatments like hypnotherapy and patches.

This will show goodwill to all – not just the non-smokers who you have protected by banning smoking at work – it would also be a very practical method of nurturing a healthy team.

So, instead of locking the smokers out in the cold, think more about helping them quit the habit. It could actually make financial sense to the tune of £2,500 per guilty smoker.

Stuart Norman is head of retail development for ISG Dean+Bowes