Council Bans Employees From Smoking Or Vaping During Working Hours
A Scottish council is imposing a strict smoking ban on its staff designed to 'promote positive health messages' and 'protect the health of employees'.
Dundee City Council's policy prohibits employees from smoking or vaping at any time other than during unpaid lunch breaks. The ban also applies to employees while driving between jobs or not wearing clothes that identify themselves as council workers.
The coastal city has one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the UK, particularly for men, and also some of the highest smoking rates.
However, the council's new measures have been criticised by campaign groups and unions.
Simon Clark, director of Forest, a group which acts as 'the voice and friend of the smoker', said the policy is 'tantamount to bullying'.
He said: "Threatening employees with disciplinary action if they smoke during work breaks or while they're working out of doors, out of uniform and between locations is tantamount to bullying.
"Smoking is not illegal. If it doesn't interfere with their work or inconvenience colleagues, employees who wish to smoke outside during work breaks should be allowed to do so.
"A ban on vaping makes even less sense. Switching to e-cigarettes has helped a significant number of smokers in their efforts to quit.
"If there is a genuine desire to help employees stop smoking, smokers should be encouraged to vape, not threatened with the same penalties as those caught smoking.
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"Smoking or vaping, the council is over-reaching its powers. Policing our lifestyle, as long as it doesn't have a direct impact on our work or colleagues, is not the business of local government."
A spokesman for the council said the policy change was part of a broader scheme which aims to reduce the number of children and young people who take up smoking.
He said: "The council has revised its smoking policy as we are working to protect the health of employees and also promote positive health messages across the wider community, in line with the agreed Our People Strategy and health and wellbeing framework.
"A key part of that approach involves discouraging children and young people from taking up smoking.
"One way to assist that is to reduce the number of adult 'role models' who can be seen smoking in public.
"Across Dundee, there has been the introduction of voluntary no-smoking areas at children's play parks and we will be looking to extend this to more open spaces in the future."
A voluntary smoking ban has been introduced in play parks across the city!
Weronika Soltys from @GlebelandsPS was joined by Councillor Anne Rendall to unveil her no smoking sign #TakePrideInYourPark #TakePrideInYourCity pic.twitter.com/iOlGjJNqfo
- Dundee City Council (@DundeeCouncil) May 31, 2018
However, public service union, Unison, said it also had concerns about the policy, despite usually being supportive of anti-smoking measures.
A spokesman for said: "There are clear aspects of this policy we could not agree to.
"We are usually very supportive of anti-smoking policies.
"However, people who do smoke need to be able to take breaks and get support from their employer to help them give up."
Featured Image Credit: PA