Workplace campaign on smoking

THE Netherlands yesterday announced that it was to allow smoking in 2,000 small bars and pubs.

The partial U-turn on a ban imposed in 2008 is seen as a major victory for campaigners against such bans. However it is unlikely that Britain will follow suit.

The coalition Government has indicated that a review of the ban this autumn, promised by Labour, will not take place.

It had been feared that the ban would be extended even further to prohibit smoking in beer gardens and doorways.

Campaigners in favor of the ban point to research from the Department of Health suggesting that in the year after the ban, the number of heart attacks plummeted by 10 per cent.

One supporter of the smoking ban is Sheffield businessman John Green.

John is the "face" of a campaign aimed at encouraging employers to help their employees stop smoking.

John was keen to help promote stop-smoking services to others as both his parents died due to smoking-related diseases.

"My mum died directly from a smoking-related illness and my dad indirectly from cancer, so when someone asked me if I would get involved in a campaign to help people to stop smoking I was happy to help."

But he says he didn't realise that he would be the face of the stop smoking workplace scheme until he started to get calls from friends and then saw a leaflet from NHS Sheffield's scheme with his face on it

"I got involved two-and-a half years ago actually and had completely forgotten about it until a friend came up and asked how long I'd been modelling!

"I'm really pleased though that it has been used and I think the scheme is a really good thing to be a part of.

"Many people who knew and recognised me on the posters were all intrigued about how it came about but as I lost both my parents due to smoking and have suffered from cancer myself, I am always keen to promote healthy living and I'm really proud to have been involved."

The scheme for workplaces is a free service run jointly by NHS Sheffield and Sheffield City Council and has been established to encourage employers to help and support their staff to stop smoking.

Lucy Ball, health promotion officer, who runs the workplace scheme in Sheffield, said: "Last year, 30 workplaces in Sheffield held on-site stop smoking clinics.

"These ranged from nursing homes, to building sites, to call centres and solicitors, all supporting their staff in the improvement of their health.

"Many employers can see the benefits of the scheme as research shows that on average, a smoker takes 40 minutes out of the working day for smoking breaks, adding up to a whole

month a year and a loss of absence and productivity of around 1,500.

"It not only makes business sense to employers, but it also demonstrates to their employees health is of paramount importance."

The scheme normally takes the format of a seven-week programme of group sessions, run by a trained adviser, this can be tailored to each employer's and employee's needs. Information is also provided on possible aids, such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy.

More than 120 people in Sheffield quit through the workplace scheme last year.

"It is fantastic to think that something that took up half an hour of my time has helped this many people stop smoking in Sheffield.

"But if just one person had stopped it would have been worth it," says John, who is against any relaxation of the smoking laws in this country.

PUBLIC SMOKING STUBBED OUT

Smoking in enclosed public places was banned in England on July 1, 2007.

The law, which was finally approved in July 2006 after months of debate, discussion and opposition, has been welcomed by non-smokers, health campaigners and even by a huge number of smokers.

The main objective of the no smoking law was to protect the health of all people, smokers as well as non-smokers, in public places, particularly from the negative effects and potential illnesses that have been linked to passive smoking, and especially in the workplace, where in some cases, employees are subjected to breathing in secondhand smoke often for many hours every day.

England was the last country of the UK to enforce a no smoking ban. If caught smoking the offender may be fined 50, while the premises could be fined 2,500.