Plea to Colchester and Tendring

Free help is being made available to employers in Colchester and Tendring who want to help their employees stop smoking.

Specialist advisers from the Colchester and Tendring NHS Stop Smoking Support Service are offering to go into workplaces to help staff who want to quit.

The service, which is funded by North East Essex Primary Care Trust, believes it will help both employers and employees to prepare for the ban on smoking in the workplace, which is expected to be implemented next summer as part of a wider ban.

Sue White, service manager, said: "We have already been working in a limited way with employees in the workplace but we're now looking to step up that activity in advance of next year's ban.

"Employees who quit benefit by having better health – not to mention more disposable income! – and employers gain by having a healthier workforce and reduced absenteeism which increases productivity [see Notes to editors 2 below]. It truly is a win-win situation!

"In our experience, one of the reasons given by smokers who want to quit but who don't take the first step is that they haven't got the time but we have found that many smokers find it convenient to be supported in the workplace."

Mrs White said the service preferred to spend one hour a week over a period of six weeks, working with groups ranging in size from eight to 25 employees. However, it was also possible to work with employees on an individual basis.

She added that most employees were supported during their lunch break but some employers were happy for staff to spend time with a stop smoking adviser in "company time".

The only charge that smokers have to pay is for a prescription if they need Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). The cost of a single prescription is £6.65 which provides two weeks' worth of NRT patches – which cost about £30 if bought on the high street.

Legislation to ban smoking in public places and workplaces will be implemented next year, late May at the earliest. Mrs White believes that many potential quitters are waiting until just before the ban comes in before attempting to stop.

Some employers, such as Colchester Borough Council and Colchester and Tendring PCTs, which joined to form North East Essex PCT on 1 October, have already implemented a total ban on smoking in their buildings and outside on their land (with a few exceptions, such as Castle Park, Colchester).

Mrs White added that the Colchester and Tendring NHS Stop Smoking Support Service was continuing to offer its services to NHS staff who smoke and who are looking for help to quit.

Daytime, evening and weekend clinics are available for anyone in Colchester and Tendring who want help to stop smoking.

* Any employer who would like to help their employees give up smoking can contact the Colchester and Tendring NHS Stop Smoking Support Service on its usual free number – 0800 7312656. If there is no reply, please leave a message and your call will be returned shortly afterwards.

- ends -

Notes to editors:

1, The attached photograph is of Rick Worsdale (left) and Graham Vale who successfully gave up smoking as a result of workplace support from the Colchester and Tendring NHS Stop Smoking Support Service.

They are both mechanics for Colchester Borough Council and are based at its Westside depot. They and six council colleagues, including dustmen, quit smoking earlier this year as a result of support given to them at the Shrub End depot.

Alison Woolnough, Community Health Co-ordinator at Colchester Borough Council, is happy to talk with the media about the council's experience of implementing its no smoking policy. You can call her on 01206 282975 or 07779 259838.

2. For more information about how much productivity is lost as a result of employees who smoke, visit:

http://www.cleanairaward.org.uk/downloads/SmokingCostsCalculator.xls

Employers can simply enter data that relates to their company to work out how much productivity is being lost.

For further information:

Contact Mark Prentice or Patrick Lowman of Geronimo Communications on 01284 768935.

16 October 2006

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