Employers in Wales must to do more to help staff quit smoking, as major campaign launches to reduce smoking rates in Wales
Every employer in Wales must promote quit smoking support if the Welsh Government’s target of reducing smoking rates from 23% to 16% by 2020 is to be achieved, according to ASH Wales.
The call comes as a new campaign – Quit for Wales – is launched today by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in Wales ahead of the autumn rugby internationals.
The campaign will urge Wales’s 500,000 smokers to make a quit attempt and will call for more investment in smoking cessation services in the workplace, as well as more quit support for vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and people with mental health problems.
Nearly a quarter of people in Wales still smoke, including over 30% of those in routine and manual professions. Very few businesses in Wales offer smoking cessation support even though smoking severely impacts productivity through smoking breaks and workforce health.
The Welsh Government wants to reduce smoking rates from the current 23% to 16% by 2020 – that means 25,000 people quitting every year in Wales – and that’s without anyone else starting to smoke.
The campaign, which will run for six months, will call for:
- Every workplace in Wales to promote flexible quit smoking support to their employees. Over 30% of routine and manual workers currently smoke, a much higher percentage than the overall average.
- All midwives and health visitors in Wales to be educated on smoking in pregnancy and receive brief intervention training as part of their pre-registration training. Currently 16% of pregnant women in Wales smoke throughout their pregnancy, the highest rate in the UK
- All mental health providers to be trained in quit smoking support. In contrast to the decline in smoking prevalence in the general population in the last two decades, there has been little change in smoking prevalence among those with mental disorders in the same period
Elen de Lacy, Chief Executive of ASH Wales said:
“If we are going to reduce smoking prevalence in Wales and encourage more people to quit we have to invest in flexible and accessible services to ensure people get the right support. Workplaces in Wales have a vital role to play in bringing smoking rates down and can be supportive environments to quit, but employers need to give their staff the time and support to do it. We also need to ensure that professionals involved with vulnerable groups such as midwives and mental health service providers are trained to advise smokers, and signpost them to the right services.