Clearing the air for smoking ban

PUBLISHED: 13:36 20 April 2007 | UPDATED: 22:44 28 May 2010

FENLAND District Council has now adopted a totally smoke-free policy as part of its commitment to providing a healthier environment for its employees and customers. Now, less than a month into the smoke-free policy, the council is aiming to achieve a Gold

FENLAND District Council has now adopted a totally smoke-free policy as part of its commitment to providing a healthier environment for its employees and customers.

Now, less than a month into the smoke-free policy, the council is aiming to achieve a Gold National Clean Air Award, set up by the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation to reward employers who implement effective work place no smoking policies.

The council instigated a total ban on smoking on any council sites, ahead of the national ban on July 1. It is determined to lead from the front on the issue of promoting smoke-free work environments and going for gold is a clear expression of that commitment.

Fenland Council is also in the process of appointing a smoke-free environment adviser who will work with all the businesses in Fenland affected by the new no-smoking legislation. The adviser will also work closely with the council's environmental health, planning, licensing and cleansing teams to tackle issues arising out of the national ban in July.

This cross-council co-ordination will be particularly effective where pubs and restaurants will no longer be able to allow smokers to light up indoors and where smokers take to smoking outside and dropping cigarette butts and match sticks on the pavement.

While the council is going for the Gold Award by banning smoking on any council workplace site, it is able to provide advice to businesses who wish to provide external shelters for smokers, which will entitle them to bid for a Silver Award.

Benefits of smoke-free business

- Increased productivity - an average smoker may take six 10-minute breaks a day, equating to an hour per day and five hours a week of work lost.

- Improved staff morale - non-smokers may resent the number of additional breaks smokers take.

- Fulfilment of health and safety regulations and reduced risk of litigation from non-smokers exposed to second hand smoke.

- Reduced risk of fire damage and therefore reduced insurance premiums.

- Reduced maintenance and cleaning costs.

- Greater appeal to non-smoking customers - the majority of the population.

The council is also pointing smokers who wish to give up towards effective help.

It is working closely with CAMQUIT, the Cambridgeshire NHS Stop Smoking Service, which can be contacted on 0800 018 4304.

For further information on the national legislation, contact Smokefree England on 0800 169 1697 or visit www.smokefreeengland.co.uk

For companies wishing to see an example of a smoke-free policy and find out more about the National Clean Air Award, call 0871 220 5491 or visit www.cleanairaward.org.uk

For advice on becoming a smoke-free workplace, contact Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Tobacco Control Alliance co-ordinator Zoe Harvey on 01480 398585 or you can also e-mail her at zoe.harvey@cambsphn.nhs.uk

Richard Cassidy, director of environment and leisure, said: "We are committed to creating a healthy working environment, not just for our customers and staff, but those across Fenland. It is important to us to lead the way on this issue in order to get businesses on board with the concept of protecting the health of employees and customers.

"The health dangers of smoking and of passive smoking are now well known, which is why we have moved quickly, ahead of the legislation, to tackle this serious issue."

Health risks

Second-hand smoke - the risks

- Tobacco smoke contains 4,000 toxic chemicals, at least 40 of which are known to cause cancer.

- Second-hand smoking causes up to 11,000 non-smokers' deaths in the UK each year.

- A smoker inhales only 15 per cent of the smoke from a cigarette. The remaining 85 per cent of the smoke from the burning tip of the cigarette discharges into the air and is called 'sidestream' smoke. Sidestream smoke contains a higher concentration of chemicals that the smoke inhaled by the smoker.

Short-term effects of second-hand smoke

- Shortness of breath, headache, nausea, dizziness, sore throat, coughs and eye irritation.

Long-term health risks of breathing second-hand smoke

- Risk of lung cancer increased by 24 per cent, risk of heart disease increased by 25 per cent, breathing in second-hand smoke makes the blood more sticky, increasing the risk of blood clots forming. Blood clots can block arteries and cause heart attacks, strokes, angina or even complete heart failure.

- Cot death is twice as likely for babies whose mothers smoke.

- Second-hand smoke increases the risk of getting asthma and causes asthma attacks. And younger children are much more likely to contract a serious respiratory infection that requires hospitalisation.

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