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The Smoking Break? Yes or No?

The Smoking Break? Yes or No?

There is a push on in some industries to ban smoking breaks. Some might say it’s a good idea – good for productivity and good for people’s health. But others might say it’s heavy handed. After all, if people are smoking outside and away from others, who cares?

I don’t smoke but I can see the argument that it actually impinges on their civil liberties because it puts them in a very uncomfortable space.

Last year, the issue was raised when the Health Department banned people from taking cigarette breaks.  “While no departmental employee will be permitted to smoke during the working day, smoking before or after these hours, or during the lunch period, is permitted.

The decision was condemned by civil libertarians but Simon Chapman; the professor of public health at the University of Sydney says that’s just “soft nonsense” because when you add it all up, smokers would be taking 216 hours a year when they head out on a break. “With 90 per cent of smokers regretting having ever started smoking, many smokers are in fact grateful for policies that limit their smoking … I love good coffee. Should I be able to leave the building and walk 50 meters to my nearest cafe any time I want at my employer’s expense? What about exercise ”addicts” or mild claustrophobics? Why limit compassion only to smokers?”

There are some who believe its polarising smokers and non-smokers with the non-smokers resenting the number of breaks being taken. Take, for example, a call centre where people might duck out for a 15 minute smoke. Management will look the other way. But when non-smokers want to take five minutes out, they will have management breathing down their necks. It’s not fair.

It’s a trend and discussion that seems to be gathering momentum with some organisations overseas forcing smokers to Clock off when they duck out.

“There is nothing stopping an employer asking a candidate if they smoke and how often,” he says.”You can put into a contract that staff are not to smoke during office hours. You can also fix the time of people’s breaks and request that in their break they do not leave your premises. There is no law that says you can’t discriminate against smokers.”

What do you think? Should smoking breaks be banned or cut back? Do smoking breaks undermine productivity? Do you resent the number of breaks smokers take? If you’re a smoker, how do you feel about it?