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Last Updated: Monday, 12 March 2007, 15:30 GMT
Smokers 'waste 30 minutes a day'
Smoke breaks are a workplace "bone of contention" it is claimed
Smokers take on average half an hour from their working day to enjoy a cigarette, a survey suggests.

The study of 1,000 adults found that the average smoker took around three 10 minute breaks while at work to satisfy the habit.

The Benenden Healthcare Society estimated that 290,000 working days were lost in the UK each year by smokers leaving the office.

The group said that smoking breaks were a "bone of contention" in workplaces.

Smokers in the North take most breaks, with only 13% going through the day without having a cigarette, said the society which commissioned the study.

This compared to almost a third in the Midlands and a fifth in the South.

Some workers took seven cigarette breaks a day, it added.

'Deeply unpopular'

"Non-smokers feel that smokers get away with avoiding work, and this report will only confirm their suspicions," said Jakki Stubbington of Benenden Healthcare.

"Cigarette breaks are a positive thing for non-smokers as they minimise the impact of passive smoking in their working environment."

"But if smokers are seen to be taking advantage of the breaks they are allowed, they will become deeply unpopular."

Simon Clark of smokers group Forest said such studies were unscientific and that criticising smokers for taking breaks was "pathetic".

"Most of us no longer work on a conveyor belt and we all work in different ways," he said.

"If someone chooses to have a smoke break rather than make a personal phone call, send a personal email or chat over the water cooler then that really should be up to them."

Workers abusing the system was a sign of weak management, he added.

Mr Clark added that the introduction of the smoking ban in England from 1 July would increase the time away from desks as the abolition of smoking rooms meant many workers would have to go outside to smoke rather than staying within the building.

What are your thoughts?

The idea that non-smokers spend all their time at the desk is nonsense. Non-smokers vanish to have a chat with their mates, go to the canteen for snacks and read the paper in the toilet.
Tedgo, Andover, UK

If smokers are allowed smoking breaks then non-smokers should be allowed to have equivalent breaks. Surely that would be fairer. In the old days we had tea breaks. Why can't they be reinstated then the smokers can go and smoke and those that don't can have a break anyway. As always happens, the silent majority (in this case non-smokers) lose out to the selfish minority
Peter, Billericay, UK

When I used to work in a bar the smokers were always allowed additional breaks. I hated that. Also, why when a smoker asks rhetorically "Do you mind if I smoke?" do I feel obliged to say "That's fine", when I really want to say "Yes, actually. I do mind".
Vicki, UK

As a smoker I completely understand how a non-smoker must feel. I, like most smokers, take a quick break every hour or so, however I ensure that I still work my seven-and-a-half hours by coming in early, having a short lunch and working late. I have worked in places where non-smokers have complained about this and thankfully the management said that if non-smokers needed to go outside in all weather several times a day they were welcome as long as they work their hours. Strangely no one did.
Phil Roberts, Evesham Worcestershire

Smokers have been the target of political and health campaigners for many years. In the workplace I take two breaks of five minutes each every day (weather permitting) but normally average 45 hours a week at work so I have no guilty conscience. However non-smokers are free to chat about the weekend nights out, scandal and other rubbish without having to quantify or justify the time spent doing so. Perhaps a campaign against 'time wasting' at work would be more productive than the continual bashing of smokers.
C S Carveth, North Yorkshire

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