BT has announced it will ban its workers from smoking in its offices and vans from March, in a move which could set new standards across British industry. The company is introducing the ban on March 26, as legislation outlawing smoking in the workplace comes into effect in Scotland, but more than a year before it comes into force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
From next month BT’s 100,000 employees across the world, including 20,000 outside the UK will not be allowed to smoke on company premises or in vans bearing the BT logo. Designated smoking rooms will be closed and converted to offices, store rooms or put to other use. The provision of external shelters for smokers will be assessed but staff will be discouraged from having a cigarette outside BT buildings.
The company’s offices have been smoke free for a number of years but special smoking rooms have been provided and workers have been allowed to light up in company vehicles. From next month smoking will be banned in BT vans and in cars being used for business purposes.
Dr Paul Litchfield, BT’s chief medical officer said the ban went no further than the legislation due to take effect in Scotland and that it had seemed “a nonsense” to have one rule for employees in Dumfries and another for those in Carlisle.
“The new rules introduce what we perceive to be the best practice in terms of enabling our people to live a healthy life,” said Dr Litchfield. “A lot of our people tell us that they want to give up smoking but need a little help, and this is part of that.”
Dr Litchfield added that the ban was just part of the strategy, and that employees would receive information and support when giving up.
BT estimates that around one third of its workers smoke