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« Stoptober 2018 - Jeremy Kyle paid £20,000 for his ‘time and creative input’ | Main | Council planning »

Council bans smoking AND vaping during working hours 

I promised you news of a council’s revised smoking policy and here it is.

As of today Dundee City Council has banned employees from smoking and vaping during working hours. According to a note I received yesterday:

The policy has been created in response to the Scottish Government report ‘Creating a tobacco-free generation: A Tobacco Control Strategy for Scotland’, with guidance from COSLA, and explicitly bans council workers from smoking whilst outdoors, even while walking from one premises to another or during tea breaks. The ban also includes e-cigarettes, which the council does not consider different from cigarettes.
Excerpts from the council’s new smoking policy include:

In this policy, the term ‘smoking’ means smoking tobacco in any form and by any means, the use of e-cigarettes and using any other form of substitute smoking device.

The council makes no distinction between ‘conventional’ smoking and the use of e-cigarettes. Any prohibitions described cover all these activities.

Ultimately, an employee, who does not comply with (the policy) will be subject to disciplinary proceedings.

Q: Does this policy mean that I cannot smoke at all while I am at work?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I smoke when I am working out of doors and not affecting anyone else with my smoke?
A: No.

Q: If my duties require me to go from one office or location to another, can I smoke on the way, i.e. in the open air in the street?
A: No.

Q: Can I leave the workplace during a tea-break to have a smoke?
A: No.

Q: I travel from location to location and don’t wear anything to identify me as a council employee, am I allowed to smoke when I am outside?
A: No.

The story will appear later today in the Dundee Evening Telegraph which invited Forest to comment. Here’s our full response:

“Threatening employees with disciplinary action if they smoke during work breaks or while they're working out of doors, out of uniform and between locations, is tantamount to bullying.

"A ban on vaping is even worse. There is a clear distinction between 'conventional' smoking and the use of e-cigarettes and council policy should reflect that.

"Switching to e-cigarettes has helped a large number of smokers who are trying to quit. 

"If there is a genuine desire to help employees stop smoking, smokers should be encouraged to vape, not threatened with the same penalties they face if caught smoking.

"Smoking or vaping, the council is over-reaching its powers. Policing our lifestyle, as long as it doesn't have a direct impact on our work or colleagues, is not the business of local government."

I’ll link to the report when it’s online.

My message to vaping advocates is this: be careful what you wish for. When you remain silent (as most of you invariably do) and do nothing to oppose the extension of anti-smoking policies, you actively invite similar policies on vaping.

Anti-smoking campaigners - whether they be politicians or public health workers - will never be your long-term friends and allies. If you don’t understand that you are either naive, stupid or lying to yourself.

Forest will continue to speak out against vaping bans because it’s the right thing to do.

Sadly self interest is what defines most ex-smoking vapers today and I have long since given up expecting their support when smokers are attacked and vilified and smoking bans are extended to all working hours (and even non-working hours if you're in uniform) and outdoor public places.

There are exceptions but they are very, very few.

As for non-smoking vaping advocates within the public health community, they positively welcome anti-smoking policies and see campaigns like Stoptober and No Smoking Day as an opportunity to promote their anti-smoking agenda.

They may talk about the rights of smokers but only in relation to their 'right' to consume less harmful products.

When it comes to the 'right' to smoke without being harassed and denormalised they are strangely mute.

Oh well, let's see who else, apart from Forest, condemns Dundee City Council's new policy. I suspect it will be a very short list but I'm happy to name them here.

Update: As I suspected, the silence on this story from vaping advocacy groups has been deafening. To the best of my knowledge the only bodies, other than Forest, that have commented on Dundee City Council’s new policy are the trade union Unison and ASH Scotland.

Unison complained that they had not been “fully consulted” and had not agreed to the policy. A spokesman also told the Sun, “It is an attack on people who smoke”.

In the Scotsman however the spokesman added, “We are usually very supportive of anti-smoking policies. However, people who do smoke need to be able to take breaks and get support from their employer to help them give up.”

Supporting the initiative, ASH Scotland CEO Sheila Duffy said: “Policies like this aim to care for employees and the communities they serve.“ Yeah, right. The sense of compassion is overwhelming.

See Workers face cigarette break ban under anti-smoking plan (Scotsman).

The story also appeared, with quotes from Forest, in the Scottish Daily Mail (report not online) and the Courier (Tough new Dundee City Council smoking policy ‘tantamount to bullying’).

Curiously, although it was the lead story in yesterday’s paper ('Workers fume as council bans fag breaks'), it is not (yet) on the Dundee Evening Telegraph website.

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Reader Comments (10)

Cosla's statement on vaping includes the following...

Terminology – the use of smoking terminology should be avoided when referring to e cigarettes. E-cigarette use is often known as ‘vaping’ and e-cigarettes users are often known as ‘vapers’. Make clear the distinction between vaping and smoking, and the evidence on the relative risks for users and bystanders.
2 Supporting smokers to stop smoking and stay smoke-free – an enabling approach may be appropriate in relation to vaping, to make it an easier choice than smoking.

It does not look like Dundee have actually read the report they claim they are following.

Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 12:01 | Unregistered Commenterrobert innes

I share your frustrations re vapers not saying anything.
I no longer smoke, but I will always believe that the UK should relax its smoking ban by allowing sealed rooms and/or designated bars. I also believe that plain packaging should be scrapped along with the display ban. For me, current policies aren't about the health of anyone, they're purely spiteful and vindictive demands of a militant minority being put into practice.
Sadly as a vaper, I now see people arguing that certain groups and individuals are great cheerleaders for vaping and THR in general. I staunchly disagree and I've argued that I think they're speaking too soon. The litmus test for me is to see their reaction if/when vaping becomes more prominent and (hopefully) when more places begin using common sense and accommodate it indoors. I suspect those currently cosying up will be bitterly disappointed for we will then see what they truly think . I suspect much current "support" for vaping is more a case of having been outflanked and retreating in order to regroup. In my opinion, we're already seeing signs (the attacks on HNB adverts and silence on snus as examples) that this is the case.
As a footnote, I stopped smoking cigarettes because I no longer enjoyed them, not because of anti-smoking campaigns. Keep up the good work, you speak much sense!

Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 14:00 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew O'Dowd

The attack on smokers and vapers is essentially persecution and denial of choice instigated by anti tobacco extremists. The health arguments justifying this persecution to avoid d risk from second hand smoke are demonstrably false. It's time to expose the biases underlying the imposition of smoking bans and the persecution of smokers.

Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 16:36 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus


I feel that Dundee city council is full of idiots as they all jump on any bandwagon that has to do with stopping any pleasurable activity. However like you have said in the past, what a person does in their own time is nothing to do with your employer. Therefore if a person is able to leave their place of work and come back within the allotted time of any break, they can smoke if they wish, and, if their employer attempts to stop them doing any legal act then this could be classed as unlawful detention. I can see a few court cases coming to light .

Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 18:10 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Kerr

In return for payment, an employee offers his labour - not his body and soul. Nor does any employer have any right to dictate how an employee will behave in his own time unless that behaviour affects his job performance. It would be nice to believe that the unions would take the side of the smokers and vapers but, if I remember rightly, the unions backed the smoking ban in 2007.

I'll get the popcorn in for the court cases.

Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 21:38 | Unregistered CommenterJay

“I can see a few court cases coming to light”

It would be nice to think so, wouldn’t it? But I’m not sure it’ll happen, simply because it hasn’t already. There have been countless times when smoking bans have given cause for people to sue (e.g. pubs, pubcos, clubs etc), but no-one raised so much as a peep, legally speaking. It’s understandable in a way because the courts and the legal system themselves have been so infused with anti-smoking ideology that even they are no longer able to fulfil their basic function of ensuring justice and fairness the moment the issue of smoking is raised. Even they have been so poisoned that the smokers’ cause can’t even be represented there, at the last bastion of so-called “justice.” If they weren’t so brainwashed and duped, our whole once-great legal system would (and should) hang its head in shame at the subjectively-driven loss of its own fundamental integrity. The parallels to the Hated Ones within That Regime which I won’t mention because Simon doesn’t like it, are closer than anyone – least of all the legal system itself – wants to admit.

In the case of Dundee, similarly, the unions or staff associations should, if they had so much as an inch of spine or more than a minute’s worth of foresight, be up in arms about these restrictions being placed on their members’ so-called “rest times,” because if an employer is imposing a restriction upon what an employee does in their rest periods – whether that’s in respect of smoking or anything else – then what they are doing in effect is denying those employees a rest break at all. After all, if during your “work time” you are expected to do as your employer tells you (as, of course, you are, contractually speaking), then also being obliged to do as your employer tells you during non-work time is effectively forcing you to “work” during your “rest time” as well. It’s no justification for an employer to say (effectively) “Well, we let them leave their desks and read the newspaper for 20 minutes, so that counts as “rest time,” because the whole point of “rest time” is that it’s “free” time – a period where an employee doesn’t have to do as their employer tells them. If they can’t choose what they do or don’t do, then it’s not “free” time, is it?

It’s one of the most dangerous aspects of the whole anti-smoking movement in that it’s enabled anyone in any position of power – as employers are – to “get a foot in the door” when it comes to denying people their rights. As we have seen in terms of Public Health, the often warned-of (and equally often hotly denied) “slippery slope” certainly does exist and certainly does follow on from smoking restrictions - often using the exact same template as the anti-smoking movement did first time around. And this is just as true in respect of employment rights as it has been in Public Health. If this kind of insidious rights-removal is allowed to go unchallenged then as sure as night follows day, you can be certain that there will be other “disallowed” activities to follow as each becomes politically fashionable. The problem is, having allowed it to go unchallenged once – simply because it’s “just smoking” this time – then it becomes near-impossible to argue against other restrictions in the future, when almost identical arguments are given for imposing those restrictions. How can a non-smoker who by their silence “agrees” with the extended smoking ban in order to strive for a “smoke free Scotland” not then agree with a ban on chocolate biscuits or cakes or tea with sugar in order to strive for a “slimmed-down Scotland?” And how can a non-biscuit eater who by their silence “agrees” with the biscuit ban not then agree with a ban on reading The Sun in order to strive for a “smut-free Scotland?” How can a Telegraph reader who by their silence “agrees” with the Sun ban then not agree with a ban on driving to work in order to strive for a “clean air Scotland?” The possibilities for employers who are so inclined to impose their personal preferences on their employees are bedazzlingly open-ended, but they can only indulge themselves in this way if employees, including those not affected by these current proposals, allow them to get away with it now, without either protesting, loudly and clearly, or simply by leaving, en masse.

Friday, November 2, 2018 at 2:24 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Bravo Simon. ALL well said.

Friday, November 2, 2018 at 6:40 | Unregistered CommenterAudrey Silk

Thanks, Audrey.

Friday, November 2, 2018 at 8:18 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Dundee Council workers can not expect any help from the Unions, this further restriction is only an extension of the TUC's original demands.

GMB demonstrates for total ban
Thursday 24 November 2005

“Hospitality workers from the GMB union make a point about the dangers of second-hand smoke at a protest outside a Gala casino in London last week.

The protesters were marking National Lung Cancer Day (17 November) by donning gas masks and calling on the Government to introduce a total ban on smoking in public places that doesn’t exempt private members’ clubs and pubs that don’t serve food.
About 100,000 workers in hospitality will still be exposed to second-hand smoke under the Government’s plans.”

MPs urged to vote for total smoking ban

"Unions and public health officers are urging MPs to back a total ban on smoking in public places, including pubs and clubs. The calls come after the government's decision last week to allow Labour MPs a free vote on the smoking ban proposals in the health Bill (Risks 239).

The TUC has already called for a ban without exceptions."

"The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) is urging its members - which include the local authority environmental health officers that would be responsible for enforcing the legislation in leisure facilities - to use their lobbying power to convince MPs to vote for an outright ban on smoking in all enclosed public places and workplaces."

Friday, November 2, 2018 at 8:56 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

As long as vapers are ok and they keep bleating that they are not smokers and they do not smoke, they couldn't care less about smokers. They are not our friend but another arm of the anti smoker industry - or another enemy trying to shaft us to win acceptance and funding for themselves.

As for the policy, it has already been done here in Lincoln by our Great Glorious City Council and no one said a damn thing. Scotland is just doing it because it has the bullies and thugs to enforce it.

Perhaps there is another nominee possibility here for Bully of the Year especially when the likes of Shiela Duffy put themselves across as a caring Nanny.when underneath there is nothing but pure hatred motivating her.

Friday, November 2, 2018 at 13:39 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

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