World No Tobacco Day takes place every year on May 31st, and is a day designed to draw attention to the health problems associated with tobacco use. It is a global campaign organised by the World Health Organisation, where people all around the world are encouraged to abstain from smoking for a 24-hour period to help raise awareness of the negative effects of tobacco.
In the UK, smoking is the primary cause of preventable illness and premature death, causing approximately 100,000 deaths per year, according to public health charity Action on Smoking and Health.
A 2012 study from The University of Nottingham found that smokers take three days more off work sick than non-smokers, costing UK businesses £1.4 billion extra a year. The research found that current smokers were 19% more likely to take time off work than ex-smokers who had kicked the habit – both for short-term absences and for longer periods of four weeks or more.
This reduction in absenteeism once employees quit smoking shows the clear benefits for employers to encourage staff who smoke to kick the habit for good. Most adults spend a significant portion of their week in the workplace, making it an ideal place to help them quit smoking – employers can find useful advice on health promotion in the workplace on the Fit for Work website. Workplace ‘smoking cessation programmes’ not only make good business sense, but they also ensure that workers who want to quit have the motivation and resources to help them do so successfully.
Ways to help employees quit smoking include:
- Creating a partnership with your local pharmacy or Stop Smoking Service, giving them easy access to things like nicotine gum and patches as well as expert support
- Keeping self-help guides and leaflets for giving up smoking around the office and workplace, so that staff have easy access to information
- Hosting a group class or course run by a professional
Promoting workplace health is increasingly being seen as a key responsibility for employers, and incorporating smoking cessation initiatives into a workplace wellness programme can help boost employee morale and also makes great business sense. Visit the Fit for Work advice hub for more information on how to promote health in the workplace.