Growing up in a smoking household, I could never understand the reason why people smoked. The smell, the smoke, the chesty coughs, etc. However, once I got involved in the Smokefree England campaign a number of years ago, I became aware of the intricacies of the smoking habit.
When a person smokes, nicotine reaches the brain very quickly. The initial effects of nicotine improve the mood and concentration of the smoker. It relaxes the individual, decreases stress and reduces the appetite. Continual use of nicotine alters the brain and increases dependency on it, leading to nicotine withdrawal symptoms and addiction.
The impact to health
People craving for nicotine can lead them to feeling anxious and withdrawn, and so when the person has a smoke these symptoms are alleviated making them feel relaxed and stress free. This reinforces the notion that they need to have a cigarette to relax. So, when a smoker is under pressure from external factors, they will often have a cigarette as a coping mechanism. In reality, nicotine isn’t reducing the effect of the underlying cause.
As everyone knows, smoking is bad for your health; that’s all I will say on the matter, as I’m sure everyone knows the potential consequences of smoking. What I will say, is that we should not vilify people because they smoke. Smoking can become an addiction and giving up is easier said than done. Instead we should support them.
There are different ways that people try to give up smoking. These include willpower, therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapies or hypnotism, as well as nicotine replacement therapy. However, it is also important that organisations support those who wish to give up.
The impact to organisations
Reducing the prevalence of smoking in the organisation can positively impact on productivity. Research has shown that smokers tend to have more sick days than non-smokers and so by reducing the number of smokers in your workplace can increase productivity, as well as improving their health. As such it is important that businesses have a strategy in place regarding smoking. It is recommended that businesses follow these steps when considering a non-smoking strategy to benefit the business and employees.
- Ensure that you understand the smoking legislation and the duties imposed.
- Implement a non-smoking policy that makes it clear what the expectations of the company are.
- Ensure the non-smoking policy extends to all smoking habits such as e-cigs.
- Ensure information and support is available to those who wish to stop smoking.
- Allow smokers time off to attend smoking cessation services.
- Implement a no-smoking policy on all outdoor areas controlled by the business. If the site is large, implement designated smoking areas for those who do smoke. Ensure that these are located away from entrances and exits and off the main pathways. This will reduce the effects of second-hand smoke.