Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Taking Care of Business

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Taking Care of Business

Article excerpt


WEDNESDAY sees Britain mark its 19th national no-smoking day. Many companies will use the event to further existing work-based schemes and workshops to help staff stop smoking. The London office of Yorkshire Water became a non-smoking workplace 10 years ago, and the company has previously brought in private companies to provide support for smokers in the workplace who are trying to quit.

Christine Lockwood works in occupational health at Yorkshire Water. She explains the benefits and problems of an in-work approach: "In the past we have used private workshops, but we don't get a very big take-up in classes.

Out of those who attend, though, a high percentage are successful."

Private organisations such as The Rosen Programme have successfully capitalised on the market for smoking workshops. The Rosen Programme offers a three-stage procedure based on creating a supportive communal environment in the workplace. Chris Burton, an Avon healthpromotion worker, involved with stop-smoking initiatives, agrees that this kind of external encouragement can be useful. "On your own," he says, "it's one per cent; with NRT [nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches] it's two per cent; and with NRT and good support it can go up to 20 or 25 per cent."

Further help for employers is now at hand. From this month, the Government launches a new workplace initiative in a bid to help employees quit smoking.

According to the Department of Health, the new scheme is based on a successful pilot run last year and will involve information packs aimed at employers. The packs centre on supplying employees with access to NHS-run smoking services.

Previous projects have seen NHS employees hold classes in the workplace, but Heather Tomlinson, of NHS personnel in Leeds, admits they have not been a complete success. "I think the problem is that the groups we have run have not been terribly well attended. You tend to get a big drop-off rate anyway, so if your group comprises four and that drops to two, it is simply not going to be as successful. …

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