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|Council Smoking Ban
Welwyn Hatfield Council is to enforce a complete smoking ban on its entire staff, including park keepers and refuse collectors. The ban is due to come into effect from April 2000.
Any employee caught smoking on council property or while on duty, even in the street or in his or her own car, will face disciplinary action. At present the council estimate that up to 20 per cent of its employees are smokers.
The smoking support group, Forest, has condemned the move as an infringement of human rights. Spokeman Martin Bell doubted it could be enforced. "This smoking clampdown policy is unwelcome and ultimately unworkable," he said.
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets introduced a similar policy several years ago. Smoking is not allowed in any council buildings or in council vehicles. Council spokesman Trevor Jones admitted the policy is sometimes difficult to enforce. "It is almost impossible to keep tabs on somebody on their own in a council vehicle," he said.
Welwyn Hatfield Councils Chief Executive Michel Saminaden, a non-smoker, said that smoking was unacceptable to the authority. "What our staff do when they are off duty is up to them but while they are on duty it is inappropriate for them to smoke. It is not the image we want to portray."
Mr Saminaden said that the council was taking away people's basic rights only in the same way that making people wear crash helmets and seat belts took away their rights.
Support for staff
When the ban is enforced in less than two years time, all smoking areas will be closed. The council is to provide support for employees who want to stop smoking.
The anti-smoking group ASH endorsed the move saying that the trend towards banning smoking throughout a workplace was becoming the norm. Spokesperson Amanda Sandford said: "Welwyn Hatfield Council is a good example of a responsible employer. Smoking and the workplace do not go together," she said.
July 16, 1998