Smoking is often part of the daily routine for many workers, which can make it difficult to break the habit and quit. Like other health behaviours, there are inequalities in smoking. In the UK, approximately 1 in 4 of those in routine and manual occupations smoke, double that of managerial and professional roles.
People who smoke also take an average of two or three days more sick leave per year. In combination with lost productivity from regular cigarette breaks, employees who smoke are estimated to cost UK businesses £7.5 billion a year. PHE is determined to reduce smoking prevalence and to improve overall workplace health.
Stoptober, the nation’s mass quitting challenge, has almost come to an end but there are many ways you can continue to support your workforce to successfully stop smoking. Research suggests that the majority of people that smoke would like help to stop, and they are 34% more likely to quit when someone they work with stops. Not only does this emphasise the influence that social networks have on one’s own smoking behaviour but also demonstrates how the workplace is an ideal environment which can help develop a culture that supports smoking quit attempts.
In order to improve the health and wellbeing of staff, PHE has been promoting the uptake of the Workplace Wellbeing Charter. This provides a framework for evidence-based action on workplace health. In fact, one of the eight Charter Standards is focused specifically on smoking. If you’re an employer interested in supporting staff to stop smoking, here are a few suggestions for action.
- Staff should be aware of the smokefree and tobacco control laws and how they are applied in their workforce.
- It’s important that smokefree policies are adhered to and staff are aware of how to report breaches.
- Many organisations provide staff with information on local Stop Smoking Services and allow staff time off, without loss of pay, to attend these.
- Encourage those who want to quit to sign up to Smokefree for free, proven support tools to maximise their chances of success .
- We’ve found that organisations get the most traction when they pull this all together in a smokefree policy for the organisation, which is then promoted to staff and championed.
Embedding workplace wellness programmes not only improves the health of employees, it also has benefits for the organisation. For example, well designed wellness programmes can reduce staff turnover by between 10% and 25%. For further information on smoking workplace interventions click here.
Smokers are more likely to stop smoking for good if they use support. We have no doubt that the Workplace Wellbeing Charter will allow you to support your employees and will be a benefit to you and your business in helping your workforce become smokefree.
We realise that Stoptober has almost reached an end, but we hope that the enthusiasm and drive that this campaign has sparked will continue throughout the rest of the year. We know that an organisation's policies can help develop a culture that supports its workforce in stopping smoking. Action will have an impact on the health of the workforce, their family and provide business savings.