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Employers urged to help smokers quit

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued advice on the support that smokers should be offered in their workplace to help them quit smoking.

The new advice comes as workplaces in England prepare to go smokefree from 1 July. Smoking costs the NHS an estimated £1.5bn each year, and costs industry an estimated £5bn in lost productivity, absenteeism and fire damage. The new laws banning smoking in workplaces are expected to motivate smokers who want to quit, to finally give up.

Aimed mainly at employers, but also at employees and those responsible for ensuring workplaces go smokefree and for providing stop smoking support, the NICE guidance recommends the most effective ways to encourage and support employees to stop smoking. These include providing information on local stop-smoking services, and allowing smokers to attend stop-smoking clinics during working hours without loss of pay.

Andrew Dillon, Chief Executive of NICE and Executive Lead for this guidance, said: "Going smokefree is a win-win situation for both employers and employees ... Our advice is based on the best evidence of which workplace approaches are effective for smokers and make business sense for employers."

Dr Catherine Law, Chair of the Public Health Interventions Advisory Committee (PHIAC) at NICE said: "Smoking is a public health priority as well as the principal cause of inequalities in life expectancy between rich and poor in this country." She added: "Providing support at work will reach people who may not usually seek help to stop smoking, such as young men."

Dr David Sloan, PHIAC member at NICE, public health specialist and former GP, pointed out the financial incentive for quitting smoking: "Along with the health benefits of stopping smoking, employees who quit will give themselves an instant 'pay rise' - a 20-a-day smoker will save nearly £2,000 a year by stopping smoking."

The workplace smoking guidance can be downloaded at .