Workers face cigarette break ban under anti-smoking plan

Employees of a Scottish council have been banned from lighting up during the working day under a new anti-smoking strategy.

Dundee City Council said its revised smoking policy would encourage staff to quit and reduce the number of adult “role models” seen with cigarettes in public.

However, it is unclear how the policy will work in practice, with the council unable to answer questions about what would be considered a breach of the rules.

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Unison, which represents council staff, said it had not agreed to the policy.

The plans have been 'subject to detailed discussions'

A Dundee City Council spokeswoman 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 playparks and we will be looking to extend this to more open spaces in the future.”

The council said the policy “mirrored” recent changes brought into effect by NHS Tayside and other councils, adding there had been “detailed discussion” with trade unions.

But a spokesman for Unison, which represents public sector workers, said it had not been fully consulted.

He 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.”

Dundee has some of the highest rates of smoking in the UK, while men in the city have some of the lowest life expectancy rates.

Anti-smoking charity ASH Scotland’s chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “Policies like this aim to care for employees and the communities they serve.

“Two-thirds of smokers consistently tell us that they want to quit and with stopping smoking being the single best thing anyone can do for their health. We would encourage people to find their way to quit.”

But Simon Clark, of campaign group Forest, 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.”