The National Occupational Health and Safety Commission recommends that all Australian workplaces should be made completely smoke free. Smoke free environments and policies reduce the harmful health effects from smoking and second-hand smoke exposure.
Reasons to be a smoke free workplace:
- Protects the health and safety of staff and service users. There is no level of exposure to second-hand smoke that is free of risk, and exposure to second-hand smoke can still cause smoking related diseases.
- Reduced costs to the organisation. Financial benefits in going smoke free include decreased absenteeism, fewer breaks for smoking, reduced risk of legal action from second-hand smoking related injuries, and decreased fire risk.
- Encourages and influences positive health behaviours. Encouraging employees to give quitting a go is good health promotion practice and reinforces a healthy workplace.
- Smoke free workplaces can also help smokers who are trying to quit. The sight and smell of others smoking can be a trigger for those trying to quit.
- Being smoke free can also help prevent the uptake of smoking and de-normalises the behaviour.
- Reduced environmental impact. Outdoor smoking bans can help to reduce cigarette butt litter and provide cost savings through reduced clean up and refurbishment costs.
Smoke free workplaces and the law
In 2004, the South Australian Government introduced new laws that banned smoking in all enclosed workplaces. This law aimed to protect people from exposure to second-hand smoke and to the negative health effects of passive smoking.
The Tobacco Products Regulation Act 1997 prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces (e.g. offices, shops, factories, work vehicles), enclosed public places such as in pubs, clubs, bingo venues, and enclosed shared areas. For more information about tobacco laws, see the SA Health site: www.sahealth.sa.gov.au
How to develop a smoke free policy
A good smoke free policy enables organisations to be clear about how smoking is managed in the workplace. Policy allows an organisation to spell out the reasons and principles behind their approach and sets expectations that will guide procedures.
A clear policy should be developed around smoking that aims to make the organisation 100 per cent smoke free; that is―smoking by staff, clients or any other people is not permitted in any part of the organisational environment.
This will include vehicles, all outdoor environments and where home visiting is a part of service delivery. Practices will be adopted to ensure workers do not smoke with clients and are not exposed to second-hand smoke.
Seven steps to developing a smoke free workplace policy
Take the time to do it right and have the support of staff and management.
- Establish a workplace committee with representatives across the organisation, including executive support.
- Involve employees and clients (smokers and non-smokers) in the development. Assess their attitudes toward the policy and ask about their concerns.
- Develop a written policy that outlines how this will be achieved.
- Purpose of the policy
- Time frame for implementation
- Clear statement about where smoking is not permitted
- Details of support for staff and clients
- Consequences of non-compliance
- Contact person for the policy
- Communicate the policy to employees and clients. Provide a clear timeline for implementation by telling employees about the new smoke free policy well in advance. Provide plenty of notice of the change and promote the support offered. Educate staff about the policy and the importance of a smoke-free workplace. Help staff understand smoking and addiction and ways to quit. See below for how Quitline can support this step.
- Implement the policy including management of non-compliance.
- Evaluate the impact of the policy and review regularly.
- Support to staff and clients is a key element in ensuring smoke free policies work. Organisations need to decide to what extent they can support staff and clients to quit or manage their smoking.
- Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)―your workplace may offer subsidy or free supplies for smokers to support them in quitting.
- Organise workplace support groups for those quitting smoking.
- Allow staff to receive smoking cessation counselling from Quitline 13 7848 during work hours.
- Quitline support for smoke free workplaces.
Quitline can support your workplace in the transition to smoke free. Speak with one of our smoking cessation counsellors on 13 7848 about your policy development. Quitline can deliver a one-hour ‘Quit smoking: where do I start?’ workshop with staff in preparing to go smoke free.
Quit smoking: where do I start workshop
Quitline counsellors can deliver a one-hour workshop for smokers and non-smokers. The session aims to educate and raise awareness around the issues faced when quitting smoking covers:
- Why people smoke
- The three aspects of smoking―nicotine addiction, habits/routines and emotions
- Ways to quit smoking―cold turkey, nicotine replacement therapy and medications
- Support for quitting smoking―Quitline and phone aps
For more information or to book a workshop, contact us on 13 7848 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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