Norfolk council agrees to go smoke free at headquarters
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A Norfolk council is set to go smoke-free - but a ban on vaping is still up in the air.
Breckland District Council said it wanted to cement its position as “trailblazers” with a new smoke-free policy discussed at Monday’s cabinet meeting.
The proposal would see smoking banned at the council’s Elizabeth House office in Dereham, including in the car park and outdoor areas, while staff are offered support to quit.
The council expects a series of benefits from the proposal, including a healthier workforce, reduced absences, increased productivity and breaking down the barrier between smokers and non-smokers.
“We want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to make sure that members and staff feel they are returning to a healthy, safe and supportive working environment,” said Ian Sherwood, cabinet member for people.
“This council has always prided itself on promoting and supporting the health and wellbeing of our staff.”
However, a plan to include vaping and e-cigarettes in the banned activity drew concern from anti-smoking campaigners, who said they are a useful tool for quitting.
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Mr Sherwood seemed to acknowledge their concerns, telling cabinet colleagues they would "consider if they need to make any changes" following the draft publication of guidance from the national institute for health and care excellence (NICE).
The plans have been welcomed by health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), chief executive Deborah Arnott said: “Breckland council is to be congratulated for committing to deliver a smokefree environment for all staff, elected members and visitors to its premises, and for ensuring that smokers affected by the policy will get the support and encouragement they need to help them quit.
“ASH understands that the council will consider if it needs to make changes to its policy on vaping and e-cigarettes after the new NICE guidance on smoking cessation is published at the end of this week.
"That’s the right decision as NICE has had the benefit of reviewing the growing evidence that e-cigarettes are effective in helping smokers quit.”
Ms Arnott said around 200 people die from smoking every day in England and quitting is the most important change a smoker can make.
Sam Chapman-Allen, the leader of the council, said the policy had been raised by council staff, with around 89pc supporting the move in consultation.
The proposal was unanimously agreed by the cabinet.