Council bans smoking AND vaping during working hours 
Thursday, November 1, 2018 at 11:30
Simon Clark

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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