South West businesses would back employees to go ‘smoke-free’

Almost 40% of businesses in the South West would allow their staff time off to attend smoking cessation services during work time, a new survey commissioned by Philip Morris Limited has found.

1 in 6 companies would incentivise or reward employees for giving up smoking. However, the majority of businesses were unaware that smoke-free alternatives, like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco, are less harmful than cigarette smoke.

Businesses in the region were responding to a survey asking what support they have for employees who smoke. They were also asked questions on their familiarity with quitting aids and smoke-free alternatives for smokers who do not quit.

Key findings of the survey include:

  • While most businesses were aware of e-cigarettes, just 14% correctly identified that they were 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes.1
  • 8 in 10 businesses do not currently offer specific help for smokers.
  • Over half of the businesses polled would be interested in a toolkit to help employees make healthier choices in general.
  • 62% were familiar with Nicotine Replacement Therapies, like skin patches and chewing gum.
  • Only 17% were aware of heated tobacco, a smoke-free alternative.

Mark MacGregor, Director of External Affairs at Philip Morris Limited, believes that while the survey uncovered a desire for businesses in the South West to support their employees, it also showed that many lack the practical information and advice to do so: “This survey shows local companies are committed to helping their staff to go smoke-free. But they need much more information and support to translate this into action. Businesses can play a vital role in helping employees to either quit altogether or switch to a better alternative, like e-cigarettes and heated tobacco. This is why Philip Morris has invested in three new IQOS stores in the city and a team of people on the ground.”

There are currently 623,000 smokers in South West England2, with 56,000 smokers in Bristol alone3. According to Public Health England, nearly half of all smokers do not realise that smoke-free alternatives are less harmful than cigarettes.4