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The end of the smoko in sight for the APS?

By johnboy 31 March 2006 47

One of our sources has sent in the following missive. Bad news for smokers as your little extra break during the day gets taken away.

Anyone think this will lead to a rise in workplace violence?

UPDATED: The Canberra Times also has the story

Message from Secretary of Dept of Industry, Tourism and Resources to their


Since becoming Secretary of the Department, I have placed an emphasis on
providing the opportunities, and the means, for employees to adopt and
develop a healthy lifestyle. This has taken the form of supportive and
facilitative measures, such as the very successful FITR program, which will
continue this year, and our reimbursement via the Healthy Lifestyle

I want to address a need that I see to strongly discourage an activity that
is adverse to a healthy lifestyle – smoking. It is well known that smoking
is contributing to significant health issues for the community and I do not
believe it should be condoned in APS workplaces.

Accordingly, I think we have reached the stage where smoking during working
hours should be discouraged.

I therefore propose to ban smoking by all employees while they are on duty
apart from official meal breaks. Under this new policy, no DITR employee
would be permitted to smoke during the working day. Smoking before or
after these hours, or during the lunch period, would of course not be
covered by this policy.

While primarily directed at healthy lifestyle issues, this new policy will
also improve the professional reputation of the Department, by removing the
present situation where there are small groups of smokers standing outside
the entrances to our buildings throughout the working day.

The new policy will begin from 1 October to coincide with the Canberra move
to the new building in Binara Street. Apart from wanting to ensure that we
project a professional image of the highest quality in our new building,
the building also comes with a child care centre with an open area, in
which children of very young ages will be at play at various hours of the
day. I believe it is unacceptable to invite parents to leave children in
the child care centre, or to deliver and pick up very young children to
that child care centre from various directions around our building, and
expose those children to smoke from our employees. I therefore propose a
rule that no employee be permitted to smoke within 15 metres of any part of
the new building, or any other departmental premises at any time.

I believe these two rules (no smoking whilst on duty, and no smoking within
15 metres of any Departmental premises at any time):

• are objective and therefore easy to understand and apply –
there will be no disputes about the number or duration of smoking breaks –
there will be one simple, clear rule;
• will be a positive encouragement to those employees who do
smoke to quit, thereby offering them much better health outcomes;
• will bring to an end passive smoking in and around our
workplace, to the maximum extent that I can ensure this as Secretary of the
• will protect children in the child care centre from exposure
to passive smoking while they are in the centre and while they are
travelling to or from the centre; and
• will improve the professional image of the Department.

Of course, I cannot control the activities of members of the general public
in the public areas close to buildings. I am aware that the ACT Government
is preparing legislation to make all childcare centres smoke-free,
including the establishment of an exclusion zone around the perimeter of
every centre.

During a number of discussions about this change, a frequently asked
question has been about sanctions where an employee continues to smoke post
1 October 2006. I have indicated that no new or special arrangements would
be introduced. Issues that arise will be handled in the same manner as any
other potential breach of the DITR Code of Conduct on a case by case basis.
I consider this policy to be a ‘lawful and reasonable’ direction under the
Public Service Act.

Transition to the new rules

I propose that the new rules will take full effect from 1 October 2006 the
first day upon which the Department will begin moving into the new building
in Canberra noting however the policy will apply to all DITR employees and
buildings they occupy.

Recognising that quitting smoking is not an easy task, I propose generous
transition arrangements to support staff who smoke:

• increased support for quit smoking programs and that will
continue indefinitely; together with
• a range of additional assistance measures to be made
available to all staff who smoke.

The following link to the DITR Smoke-free Workforce intranet page will take
you to details of the comprehensive assistance measures that can be

Throughout the period to October, I will be happy to receive any reasonable
proposal about how we can better assist our employees who do smoke to give
up. This could extend to providing support to spouses to also give up

The Department’s Employee Assistance services provides general counselling.
Employees who are seeking assistance are also invited to talk through their
issue on a confidential basis with Richard Byron (02 62136213) or Kylie
Holyland (02 6213 6340), of the Human Resources Management Branch or by

I would urge employees who are smokers to take the maximum advantage of the
assistance available by taking early steps to stop smoking, so as to avoid
any possibility of difficulties down the track.

What’s Your opinion?

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47 Responses to
The end of the smoko in sight for the APS?
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Absent Diane 12:41 pm 11 Apr 06

If the tea ladies can wear mini skirts that would be great…… and even the tea men can wear mini skirts….. to make it all equal, fun and a little risque

Thumper 8:58 am 11 Apr 06


I agree. Bring back the tea ladies. They were great for morale and productivity. At 10.30 everyone would stand around and have a cuppa and a yarn then go back to work.

Sadly the tea ladies went the way of the dodo so departments could save some dollars.

By the way, West belconnen leagues Club will be totally smoke free by december this year I believe.

midnitecalla 9:32 pm 10 Apr 06

agreed Diane is it still the “land of the Long Knives” i have been ousted in the early nineties cos i didnt smoke ! when we non smokers went out side to get some fresh air !

and slinky i bet that office was thick with nicotinal tar bloody gross… im kinda glad that the smokers are finally getting a kick in the arse

and as for coffee ? easy bring back the tea ladies and productivity will go through the roof. so much for those touch feely hard cases knocking them offin the eighties its come around and bit them where it hurts!

Slinky the Shocker 11:24 am 04 Apr 06

We watched the ‘Hitchhikers Guide’ on Video last night. I wondered whether the Vogons have smokos?

Absent Diane 11:13 am 04 Apr 06

the public service is far from a-political…there is no way it can be

Maelinar 10:00 am 04 Apr 06

StS, proving that you are a good manager isn’t within the selection criteria for most public service positions.

They are:

I can do the job you want me to do.
I can work (with/in) a team.
I can communicate, orally and written, with other people.
I can do a specific task that has been plucked out as exceptionally difficult for the position.
I am willing to comply with OH&S and Workplace Diversity

See ? no need to mention you’re a good manager at all, thereby resulting in good management being progressively recruited out of public servants.

Fortitude and Backbone have also been progressively recruited out as well. I hear through the grapevine also that some SES get paid their bonus based upon the scores they receive from ministers in relation to their ministerial correspondence. So much for the apolitical nature of the public service when they are obliged to say what the minister wants to hear so they can get their bonus package.

Slinky the Shocker 2:56 pm 03 Apr 06

Ok, before I start this, let me say that I do have a fair bit of work connections with the public service at both territory, state and fed. level (natural recources sector). 90 percent of public servants I deal with are competent and interested in their work.
However, people with a mentality like Kimba gave public servants in Bavaria (where I originally come from) their nick-name: Armchair-farters. The distinguishing feature of an armchair-farter is the fact that he arrives on time and leaves on time – however work can be done as slowly as possible (or not at all), as long as they are present to fart in their chair.

My point: In most well managed public and private workplaces smokos are not an issue: Good management looks for performance, not mere presence and this applies to all levels-from labourer to management.

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