Nottinghamshire County Council considers staff smoking break ban

Person smoking Image copyright PA
Image caption Under the proposals, employees wearing uniform would be banned from smoking on their way to and from work

Smoking breaks could be banned for thousands of council employees under new proposals, it has emerged.

Nottinghamshire County Council wants to bar its 9,000 employees from smoking during work time.

The ban would prevent staff in uniform smoking on their way to and from work, and also extends to e-cigarettes.

Public sector union Unison said the rules would be unenforceable, but the council said it has a "duty of care to protect the health of employees".

The local authority said the ban, to include all buildings, land and vehicles, was aimed at boosting its workers' health, increasing time spent working and reducing levels of sick leave.

Its stance on e-cigarettes would be open to review pending legislation to officially license them, it said.

The council's deputy director of public health John Tomlinson said smoking was still "public health's number one enemy" and the local authority was committed to taking action.

He added: "We are trying to be a supportive employer and have a duty of care to protect the health of our employees as part of a wider remit to take a leading role in promoting better health in Nottinghamshire."

Neighbouring Gedling Borough Council is also proposing similar measures for its employees.

Leicester City Council introduced a ban on staff smoking in working time in 2007, but they can smoke during their lunch breaks.

Smoking breaks are not allowed at Derby City Council either.

Parks and recreation

Brian Fitzpatrick, Unison services conditions officer, said: "We're supportive of public health and we haven't got a stance on this, but we are balloting members asking whether they would be for or against."

Employees get a short morning and afternoon break, but no smoking will be allowed during these periods under the ban.

Smoking will be allowed during lunch breaks but not in uniform or anywhere near council property, according to the union. It said staff should be offered more help to quit.

Mr Fitzpatrick said: "Say you work in highways, if you want to smoke, you need to take all your uniform off and go as far away from site as possible and have a cigarette and then come back.

"If you're in the parks department, you won't be able to - even when you're outside.

"I don't see yet how they could enforce it."

Nottinghamshire County Council declined to comment on how it planned to enforce the ban, and what the consequences for staff breaking the rules would be.

It is currently consulting on the proposals.


Image copyright PA
  • The proposed ban on e-cigarettes at Nottinghamshire County Council goes against a report by Public Health England, which says they should be made available on prescription to help people quit
  • Jersey is the first place in the British Isles to ban smoking in cars carrying passengers under 18 years old
  • Smoking could be banned on Brighton beach under plans being considered by the city council
  • The Royal Society for Public Health is calling for a ban on smoking in pub beer gardens, al fresco eating areas of restaurants, parks, and outside school gates
  • Plans are also being drawn up to introduce smoke-free prisons

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