H5. Smoking Cessation/Respiratory Health

“We will encourage staff to stop smoking, by facilitating onsite stop smoking support services or by encouraging them to attend local stop smoking services during working time without loss of pay.  We will also take action to reduce other risks to respiratory health arising in the workplace.”

The following provides background and supporting information to help organisations understand what this pledge sets out to achieve and how, by becoming a Responsibility Deal partner, you can help deliver this pledge.

What this pledge sets out to achieve and why it is important

This pledge will help tobacco users to quit smoking and reduce the risk to all employees of developing other respiratory health problems.

The workplace is recognised as an important setting in which stop smoking services can be linked, accessed and promoted.

Smoking is the primary cause of preventable ill health and early death counting for almost 80,000 deaths in England each year. The overall economic burden of smoking is estimated at £13.74bn a year.  As well as the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses in the NHS (estimated at £2.7 billion a year) this also includes loss of productivity from smoking breaks and increased absenteeism.

Around 8 million, 21 per cent, of adults in England still smoke.  Smoking rates vary considerably between different social groups and it is most common among people who earn the least, and least common amongst those earning the most.  Nearly half of all smokers in England, (nearly 4 million), work in a job defined as routine or manual.

Benefit to public health

Smoking causes a wide range of diseases and chronic conditions including cancers, respiratory disease, coronary heart and other circulatory diseases, stomach/duodenal ulcer, impotence and infertility, complications in pregnancy and low birthweight. Following surgery, it contributes to lower survival rates, post-operative respiratory complications and poor healing.

Children of smoking parents are more likely to suffer serious respiratory infections due to the exposure to second hand smoke. In England, more people die each year from smoking than from drug use, road accidents, other accidents and falls, preventable diabetes, suicide and alcohol misuse combined.

By helping tobacco users to quit smoking not only will their personal health and that of their family improve, but there will be a positive impact on the associated costs to the economy and NHS.  Over 6 in 10 smokers say they want to quit but less than half make an attempt in any one year.  NHS funded local stop smoking services help smokers to quit by offering evidence based interventions around a personal structured support programme which may include the offer of stop smoking medication. By successfully stopping smoking people can live longer, whatever their age – people stopping smoking by age 30 gain 10 years of life than if they had continued smoking.

In the last 10 years since local Stop Smoking Services have been helping users to quit, they have supported over 2.5 million people to stop in the short term and 625,000 to stop in the long term saving over 70,000 lives.

Benefit to employers/employees

The Enterprise LSE Report (2008) estimated the total direct cost of smoking borne by employers in 2008 was £2.1 billion.  £1.1 billion from smoking related illness absence, £914 million from smoking related breaks and £133 million in fire damage.

Three 15 minute smoking breaks cost employers 195 working hours a year for each employee.

Encouraging staff to quit smoking and reducing the risk of other respiratory health problems in the workplace can have many benefits for the health and wellbeing of your staff and the success of your organisation.

Many NHS stop smoking services run stop smoking groups or Quit Clubs in the workplace. The cost, employee time, of running quit clubs can be offset against the cost borne by employers of employees’ smoking.

  • For example, a company in Dartford, who participated in the Smoke Free Kent Business Award, had 203 smokers (35 per cent) out of a total workforce of 579 routine and manual workers. The costs and savings to the company were estimated:
  • Cost of excess sickness:     £75,902
  • Smoking breaks (10 mins): £92,003
  • Total cost to organisation: £167,905
  • The company was already working with the local stop smoking service and had 26 quitters making a saving of £21,505

How you can deliver this pledge

Employers, managers and staff representatives can be supportive of those who wish to quit or extend their smoke free time making use of any training offered by local stop smoking services.

Employers, managers and staff representatives are proactive in promoting and championing a smoke free environment liaising with stop smoking services where appropriate.

Information on local Stop Smoking support and Quit Clubs can be made available to all staff e.g. via posters, payslips, information in communal areas and staff newsletters.

Stop smoking sessions could be promoted and made accessible for all staff regardless of shift patterns and hours of work.

Where possible, stop smoking groups could be accommodated in the place of work, or nearby, and staff given paid time to attend stop smoking support sessions.

Stop smoking initiatives could be linked to and co-ordinated with other health improvement activities eg. diet and nutrition classes, increasing take-up of physical activity (eg cycling to work, in-company exercise activities).

Your pledge delivery plan

Shortly after signing up, partners will be asked to provide pledge delivery plans, laying out how they intend to meet each of the pledges they have signed up to.  They will have up to 500 words to describe their plans for each pledge they are signed up to.  All delivery plans will be published on this website.

Reporting progress on your pledge

Partners will be asked to report on their progress by the end of April each year.  For some pledges, partners will be asked to report using pre-defined quantitative measures, while for others they will be asked for a narrative update.  Further information on the reporting arrangements for each pledge is available.  All annual updates will be published on this website.

We are currently developing a web-based system that will allow partners to complete their delivery plans and annual updates online from 2013.

Partners signed up to this pledge.


Healthy Lives, Healthy people: A Tobacco control Plan for England’ Department of Health.   2011

An Economic Analysis of the Cost of Employee Smoking borne by Employers, Enterprise LSE Ltd. 2008

Smoke Free Kent Employers Business Award, Kent Public Health Department

Workplace interventions to promote smoking cessation. NICE. 2011

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