Companies in the city may soon take proactive measures to educate their employees about the hazards of smoking.

By and large, most companies do not allow smoking on their premises, but some employees go outside the compound and smoke, said Sumanth C. Raman, member, healthcare sub-committee, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), southern region.

“Of late, companies have shown greater interest in creating awareness about what smoking can do to your health. Many companies now want to take initiatives to educate their employees about quitting,” he said.

In a step towards creating tobacco-free workplaces, 100 employees of various companies including BPOs, IT firms and manufacturing industries were given lessons on tobacco-free workplace policies at a workshop organised by the Resource Centre for Tobacco Control, Cancer Institute, in association with CII.

“Smoke-free policies should be implemented in companies mainly to protect non-smokers. Recently, we carried out an online survey of employees in around 50 companies. A first look at the data found that several companies assumed that they could have designated smoking areas on their premises. This is banned under the law,” said E. Vidhubala, associate professor, department of psycho-oncology, Cancer Institute.

Cancer Institute has now asked companies to remove designated smoking areas, if any, make tobacco control a priority, and put up ‘no smoking’ boards on the premises, she added.

The Institute also plans to conduct a survey on the prevalence of smoking among employees of various companies as currently, no such data is available, Dr. Vidhubala said.

V. Shanta, chairperson of Cancer Institute stressed the need to understand the current tobacco use at workplaces.

She also expressed concern over the increasing use of tobacco and said protecting children and pregnant women from the effects of passive smoking needed to be made a priority.

“We need political will to achieve these goals but the tobacco lobby is strong and rich. The will should come from individuals. This is possible only through education, as no action or legislation can make this happen,” she said.

What companies can do

-Inform and involve employees in formulating, implementing and enforcing a policy

-Place no smoking signboards at prominent places like the entrance, reception, waiting area, canteen, toilets, parking area

-Remove designated smoking area, if any

-Discourage shopkeepers/hawkers from selling tobacco near the organisation

-Form a tobacco-free work force

-Identify one employees to whom complaints of violations can be brought

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