An employer’s guide to handling smoking at work

Wondering what your company stance should be on smoking? Here are some of the considerations you need to take into account. 

One challenge that all employers face is deciding what to do about smoking. It’s important that your employees have somewhere safe to go for a cigarette. But, equally, you don’t want to encourage them to take regular breaks; as well as eating into their paid work time, it’s unfair on employees who don’t smoke.

However, with around 2.9 million people vaping and nine million adults smoking cigarettes in the UK, it’s an issue you can’t afford to ignore. 

What should you do about vaping?

There’s been a sharp rise in the popularity of vaping recently. So what do you do about employees who vape? You could allow them to vape at work, or choose enforce the same rules you apply for those who smoke cigarettes.

Whatever you decide to do, it’s important that you are consistent with your rules and make sure that you are treating all employees equally.

What does the law say? 

As an employer, you must make sure that you are abiding by the law. This involves displaying ‘no smoking’ signs, making sure that nobody smokes onsite, and taking steps to ensure that employees, customers and visitors are aware that they cannot smoke.

You don’t have to enforce a completely smoke-free rule, and many employers find it helpful to have an area outside designated for smokers.

Should you create a smoking area? 

Providing an area for employees who smoke demonstrates that you are aware of their needs and wishes, which can boost morale and motivation. Many smokers find having a cigarette or vaping relaxing, with could also help improve their performance.

Setting up a smoking area can be easy and affordable – you simply need to find an outside area near the building and invest in ashtrays and signs indicating that this is a smoking area. Ideally you’ll find somewhere with shelter for when it is raining.

Encourage smokers to quit

While there are benefits to establishing a smoking area, it’s also important to show that you would encourage employees to quit, and support them in any way you can.

This could include recommending that they switch to an e-cigarette from somewhere like VIP Electronic Cigarettes, asking their doctor for help to quit, or providing them with reading materials.

Have you established a smoking policy yet?

If you haven’t established your company policy on smoking yet, now is a good time to do so. Not only will it clarify the situation for your current employees, but you can explain your position with confidence to prospective members of staff in the recruitment process if it comes up.

Photo by Connor Limbocker