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« Five Live (late) last night | Main | New blog on the block »

Smoking at work? Give me a break!

Busy day. Having been quoted in the Daily Mail, I found myself doing a string of interviews about Breckland Council's plan to force smokers to clock off when they nip outside for a cigarette.

So far I have given interviews to BBC Radio Suffolk, Norfolk, Newcastle, Leeds, Leicester, Cambridge, Cornwall, Shropshire, Hereford and Worcester, Lincoln and Humberside, Three Counties, WM (West Midlands), Sheffield and Radio Foyle (in Derry). I also did five minutes on TalkSport. Many of these interviews were recorded for broadcast on this evening's drive time programmes.

I missed doing Five Live this morning because I was driving to the BBC studios in Cambridge (David Bowden from the Institute of Ideas did it instead) but here's a selection of newspapers that ran the story today with a quote from Forest: Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mirror, Sun.

The BBC has the story online HERE. It includes last night's Look East report in which I made a brief appearance.

Update: I shall be doing TalkSport again tonight. And Five Live after midnight. Damn, I was hoping to have a few drinks tonight!!

Reader Comments (12)

Thanks, Simon -- How did the interviews go?

For those who would like to read more on Tory-controlled Breckland Council's plan, see:

I read some of the comments on the article and they were truly spiteful.

September 28, 2010 at 22:17 | Unregistered CommenterGhost of Charles II

Thanks for the great work, Simon.

September 28, 2010 at 22:44 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Speller

The comments will be spiteful Ghost of Charles II.

Afterall, the previous government deemed it acceptable for people to hate smokers, denormalise them, shout nasty words at them, ridicule them, make them feel unwanted, close the businesses of those that supported smokers, keep out of the media all unintended consequences of the propaganda against smokers, etc.

Unfortunately, I am yet to see any change with the new coalition government. It's early days yet, but unless addressed, they can write their own death warrant.

September 29, 2010 at 0:23 | Unregistered CommenterHelen

So, I assume that the council will be requiring all staff to clock-off when the take a toilet break, as well?

September 29, 2010 at 1:46 | Unregistered CommenterAno

Simon, the “smokers wasting employers time” approach to the persecution of smokers is not new. It has been used in, at least, Australia and New Zealand.

The sort of “research” indicated in the article is not interested in the discernment of facts. It is not research at all. Rather, it is the promotion of inflammatory propaganda. There is research that indicates that all workers waste up to a number of hours per day at work. Much of this “waste” is considered acceptable given that workers are not robots. The OnePoll approach disregards all of this information. It looks only at smokers and the time taken for smoking breaks. This is all then concluded to be an “additional cost”. The position assumes that nonsmokers are comparatively always fully working. However, there are many examples of significant time wasted by all workers (see links following). In other words, smoke-breaks are offset against other forms of “time-wasting” (non-productivity) by nonsmokers. (include '=' sign at end of link) (include double '=' sign at end of link)

So, when the OnePoll spokesman suggests “[t]he average smoker is taking their colleagues and bosses for a ride”, it is actually OnePoll, as part of antismoker bigotry, that is taking everyone for a divisive ride.

September 29, 2010 at 2:27 | Unregistered CommenterAnon1

Well here's a more cheerful story for everyone. Smokers at Medway Hospital have continually refused to stop smoking in the grounds of the local hospital and now they may get their own shelter built. Well done to them for ignoring the petty restrictions and carrying on as normal. It's a shame a few more smokers don't display an equal level of contempt for the rule making jobsworths. If enough do they'll back down as in this case.

September 29, 2010 at 4:49 | Unregistered CommenterJames Trent

James Trent: Yes, I've mentioned before that people are ignoring these facile 'bans' and lighting up in hospital grounds, shopping centres etc. and even hanging on pub door frames blowing smoke back in as they talk. Its a bottom up operation.

This potential 'clocking off' for a fag is a difficult one. Years ago, ( @45) when starting a job I was told specifically not to complain about not having a 'smoke break' as we were not entitled to one - they knew it went on but we were NOT entitled to it. Obviously this is now related to the anti smoking hysteria but its still a difficult one.

September 29, 2010 at 7:52 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

There is a discussion going on about this on AOL, which you can see here

Simon and Forest are mentioned, not exactly in a nice way! Get onto it and put your pov across

September 29, 2010 at 10:29 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood


With reference to your feature on smoking breaks ,I am a none smoker and have been and criticised for having an extra tea break when smokers seen to think that they have the right to take as much additional time as they want because they smoke.
My personal view smoking should be banned from all places of employment when you consider the amount of lost productivity and cost to businesses however if smokers do choose to smoke in company time they should at least offer to make the time up.
The individuals that do not smoke seem to be discriminated against because we have to adhere to guidelines and regulations that employers set.



September 29, 2010 at 18:27 | Unregistered Commenters barratt

Hi Peter - I'm afraid the link doesn't work.

September 29, 2010 at 18:37 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Here is the whole thing Joyce|uk-ws-bb|dl1|link5|

September 29, 2010 at 20:07 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Steve, are you saying that every minute spent at your workplace is devoted to nothing but work? I doubt it very much. There are normal social interactions between staff, which does not constitute work, but is accepted as it offers often much needed distraction for a short time, which results in better productivity.

Likewise for smokers, if they feel the need for a smoke then this can become a distraction that affects productivity far more than them popping out for 5 or 10 minutes (depending on how far they have to go to be allowed to smoke) to have that smoke.

Others can find the same with coffee, their need for a coffee can cause a far greater loss of productivity due to there mind not being on the job in hand, that would be caused by them going and having that cup of coffee.

Many people believe that smoking is a drug, perhaps it is, but no more so than is coffee or tea.

Of course there are people who do abuse the system, same as there are non smokers too who may surf the net or do other things that do not include work, even whilst sat at their desks or wherever, but that happens anywhere it can be got away with. That is something for management to deal with, not just smokers, but everyone. Those that don't take advantage, whatever the situation, should not be penalised for the sake of the few that do.

September 30, 2010 at 12:44 | Unregistered CommenterLyn

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