Nottinghamshire County Council staff smoking ban approved

Person smoking Image copyright PA
Image caption Nottinghamshire County Council called tobacco "one of the great scourges of modern society"

A council has approved plans to ban its thousands of employees from smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes in its buildings, land and in its vehicles.

Nottinghamshire County Council first discussed the proposals to bar its 9,000 staff from smoking during work time in September.

The council said tobacco was "one of the great scourges of modern society".

But campaigners called the ban - which also applies to cigarette breaks - "barking mad".

Updates on this story and more from Nottinghamshire

The authority rubber-stamped the proposals on Wednesday following a meeting with the ban expected to come into force from May.

Dr Chris Kenny, director of public health at the council, said he hoped the authority would be seen as a "beacon of health".

"Tobacco is one of the great scourges of modern society," he said. "It causes huge amounts of ill health, it causes heart disease, it causes 30% of all cancers.

"It's not about a punitive policy, this is about a supportive policy to help all county council employees not smoke during work time."

Smoking ban: The restrictions

  • The ban applies during work hours, to all employees whether they wear a uniform or not
  • Some staff used flexi-time to have a cigarette break. That will no longer be possible
  • The ban applies when a county council vehicle is used
  • Employees working on behalf of the council away from the office are banned from smoking
  • Contractors working for the council are also banned from lighting up
  • Employees can smoke during lunch breaks, providing they are not on county council premises
  • The policy will be enforced by line managers

In Nottinghamshire, 17.5% of adults smoke and about 1,300 people die each year from a smoking-related illness.

Treating these illnesses costs the NHS in the county £30.2m per year, the council said.

Elsewhere in the East Midlands, Leicester City Council introduced a ban on staff smoking in working time, excluding lunch breaks, in 2007.

Smoking breaks are not allowed at Derby City Council either.

Simon Clark, from smoking campaign group Forest, said the council was "going beyond its remit" and should not dictate whether staff drink, smoke or eat fatty foods.

"The council says this is all about improving public health, but it's clearly not because we've seen that they're also banning the use of e-cigarettes during working hours," he said.

He added: "A lot of smokers are using e-cigarettes to help them cut down or quit, so it's barking mad for the council to ban the use of e-cigarettes along with combustible cigarettes."

One county council worker said he stopped smoking in February, partly in anticipation of the council's proposals.

"I think it's going to be very difficult for some people," he said. "I've been smoking since I was a teenager but I thought I might as well take this opportunity seeing as it's coming in."

Stubbed out

Image copyright PA
  • The ban on e-cigarettes at Nottinghamshire County Council goes against a report by Public Health England, which said they should be made available on prescription to help people quit
  • Jersey was the first place in the British Isles to ban smoking in cars carrying passengers under 18 years old
  • A bid to ban smoking on Brighton beach was scrapped after the idea won little support from smokers and non-smokers
  • A ban on smoking in prisons is slowly being phased in

More than 80 councils, including the county council, have signed a declaration on tobacco control, which outlines their commitment to tackling smoking and its harmful effects.

A Public Health England spokeswoman said the organisation was not aware of any other local authority in the country which has taken such a stance on smoking.

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