A smoke-free workplace policy can be successfully introduced only if the senior management within an organisation has made a clear decision and a firm commitment to take action.
The law requires that they MUST take action and have a written policy. While it is possible for management to dictate a policy, the most successful policies are those where the employees fully support the policy. Management is encouraged to seek full participation of all the workforce (including the unions) in the development and implementation of the policy.
Take the right approach to ensure the smooth implementation of your policy.
The key to the overall success would be to consult with everyone – that includes management, workers and unions. Everybody should have an opportunity to express their opinion.
Communicate at all levels
A smoke-free policy affects all employees. Everyone needs to be kept informed of the process and progress. It should be a two-way communication.
A positive and supportive attitude from management, and from non-smokers, can help smokers to follow the policy.
A smoke-free policy should apply to EVERYONE. Policies which attempt to allow some people to smoke, for example, in their offices, are likely to lead to conflict. There is no such a thing as a “private” office. Not even the boss. People may smoke only outside or within a designated smoking area.
Manage your environment
Ensure that outdoor smoking areas are away from doors, windows, ventilation inlets and air conditioners. Smoke blowing into the workplace is unpleasant and harmful. Don’t allow smoking outside your main entrance. It presents a bad image of your company.
The law required a written policy to be implemented from 1 April 2001. If you do not intend to create a designated smoking area then smoking can take place only outside. If you plan to create a smoking room then smoking must take place only outside, until structural changes are completed and the smoking area complies with the regulations.
The issue is smoking, not smokers and non-smokers. Whether people smoke or not is a personal matter, it is where they smoke and how it affects others that is the issue.
The basis for a smoke-free policy is the protection of employees from harm caused by others and the responsibility of employers to provide a healthy and safe work-place under the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act (Act no. 12 of 1999).
Focus on the general benefits of the policy to everyone in the organisation, rather than highlighting the restrictions. The matter of “time off to smoke” is not regulated. Some policies permit a maximum of 3 breaks per day. Consider that non-smokers might then want equal time off from work and asked to go home 2,5 hours early on a Friday. Some policies do not permit any time off for smoking.
5 Steps to Assuring a Successful Smoking Control Policy
There are five progressive steps that a company should take to assure itself a successful smoking control policy: These are suggestions of what might happen in very large companies. In smaller companies the process is simpler and quicker. Indeed it could be so in large companies as well.
- Cooperation begins with a management review in which a presentation is made defining the issue and the decision for which management is responsible. The management team then selects a program coordinator, a policy development team, and the work for which the team will be responsible. In small companies this is a tighter process
- The first task of the policy development team is to complete a situation analysis, or internal information gathering process. This includes surveys and/or reviews of employees, labour relations and contacts, facilities, extent of personnel policies, and so on.
- Once the relevant facts are gathered, strategic planning begins, resulting in a written policy. The planning should include consideration of such important factors as policy enforcement, cessation assistance, smoking breaks, and in-house communications.
- The fourth step of the process is actual implementation. The law required smoke free workplaces since 1 January 2001. Therefore the workplace should be smoke free immediately while the legally required written policy is being discussed. Next announce the policy, maximize employee communications, holds special events, put cessation programs in place, make any physical changes to the work site that may be necessary, and begin monitoring the policy.
- The final stage, evaluation, allows the company to measure the result of the policy and its implementation. The benefits of reduces absenteeism and increased productivity can also be measure