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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?
Sssanta 11:53 am 31 Mar 06

PS: have a look at the smokecloak company in the google ads… one of the more bizarre things I have ever seen, plus meaningless statistics. Awesome

Sssanta 11:50 am 31 Mar 06

Plus, forcing this healthy lifestyle crap is an insidious method of forcing views and lifestyles onto others who may not really want that jive. Can anyone say reformation?

Sssanta 11:47 am 31 Mar 06


been doing it for years mate. two hours a fortnight generally covers it. Secondly, I would prefer a happy smoker as a colleague than some coffee swilling twat who swans around the office like Imelda Marcos.

Just to throw a spanner in the works: if you meant to have a ten minute break every hour to ensure that your computer isn’t killing any vital body parts through laziness and non-moving. Whats wrong with ducking out for a smoke at those times? two birds one stone, all is good.

bulldog 11:33 am 31 Mar 06

Don’t have a drama with it – and I say this as a smoker. I can go without for a couple of hours w/o a smoke, but I agree with the point that it will now work both ways. As Thumper said, If I was in the same situation the flex sheet would be filled out meticulously, and it would then reflect all the additional crap which doesn’t now warrant notation because it all evens out.

Absent Diane 11:30 am 31 Mar 06

I agree that if they are going to ban smoko’s that should ban everything else… the world is pissing me off today…

bring on catacylsm, nuclear war… that’s far more entertaining than having civil liberties stripped as such….

Indi 11:23 am 31 Mar 06

“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.”

IF changes to IR legislation actually did have anything to do with this ‘health message’ from the departmental secretary, I’d say staff would have been forced to have no smoking clauses in their contracts with their employer ie. the Commonwealth.

This is clearly a health issue not an IR one – oh, and won’t someone think of the children!

Thumper 11:20 am 31 Mar 06

Guess I’m fucked then…

Stuff em, I will claim flex time for all the bloody lunch times that I don’t get. Ie, punters ringing me at lunchtime and talking for half an hour about some stupid project we funded and they can’t remember what it was.

Just another anti smoking, feel good, we-know-whats-best-for-you policy.

What about coffee breaks? Fuck me, I know people who seem to think having a coffee entails disappearing for an hour to a coffee shop. ban that as well? I doubt it somehow.

End of rant.

Mossey 11:14 am 31 Mar 06

In Sweden (I think it’s Sweden) non-smokers get a couple of extra weeks of annual leave a year. Seems like a much less draconian way to encourage quitting. Although you could say that smokers are penalised a couple of weeks of leave..

RandomGit 11:08 am 31 Mar 06

This article conjures forth the image in my head of John Hurt doing exercises under scrutiny of a large TV screen.

If they mean to discourage, they offer nicobate sunsidies and quit programs. Anything more and discourage turns into eradicate.

Maelinar 11:00 am 31 Mar 06

What’s the problem ?

All they’re saying is that if you want to smoke, you do it on your own time.

Flex up your lost work hours, and see what your non-smoking counterparts have been covering for you for all these years…

jamius maximus 11:00 am 31 Mar 06

Even though they might be at their desks more, they will be pissed and hungry for a cigarette, so I don’t think this new rule is going to help productivity.

I predict the breaks continue and people just walk across the road or wahtever to smoke.

Policy coming from the top is one thing, but local enforcement is another.

Absent Diane 10:56 am 31 Mar 06

sorry we aren’t allowed to smork near the building we are however allowed smoke breaks notes to self read before rant)… my sentiments remain the same though

Absent Diane 10:54 am 31 Mar 06

the useles cunts here at dimia have had this for ages….

It seems civil liberties are going out the window… fuck this shit pisses me off…. and I don’t even smoke at work anymore….

LurkerGal 10:52 am 31 Mar 06

Next they will ban people from making or drinking coffee, eating fruit, wearing perfume, going to the toilet or changing their tampons outside “meal breaks”.

Thanks for the new IR laws Howard you fucktard.

Sssanta 10:45 am 31 Mar 06

balls, piss, arse and crap. Coming soon to a workplace near you… a little carny that will help you wipe your bum and also assist you with the hard decisions such as, which sock goes on your left foot.

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