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Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 16:32 GMT
Man fired for smoking at home
Forest says the case is "unique"
A pro-smoking group has condemned a firm in Swindon which allegedly sacked a worker for smoking at home.

The freedom organisation for the right to enjoy smoking tobacco (Forest) says it is worried that workers could eventually be breathalysed to ensure they have not smoked.

Sales executive Mark Hodges, 41, says he was sacked on the second day of his job because his employers frowned on the habit.

He had been told of the firm's no smoking policy at his interview for the 28,000 job at Boxes and Packaging.

Businesses should operate a sensible policy towards smokers and non-smokers

Forest spokesman
But Mr Hodges told The Times newspaper he had assumed that only applied at the office and in his company car.

He said he had let slip to his new employers on his first day that he smoked at home.

Mr Hodges of Calne, Wiltshire, was dismissed the next day with one month's pay in lieu.

"I was sacked for smoking in my free time. I am angry and astounded I could be treated like that," he said.

'Extreme case'

Forest spokesman Ben Williams told BBC News Online it was a "unique" case.

"We see this as moving towards an Americanised state of discrimination.

"We know of cases in the US where employees have been breathalysed when they got to work.

"This is a very extreme case but it does serve as an example there cases may go in the future.

Smoking rooms

"Businesses should operate a sensible policy towards smokers and non-smokers.

"This would ideally involve setting aside rooms for smokers or at the very least letting them go outside and have a break."

Mr Hodges said he intended to take legal advice for breach of contract and wrongful dismissal.

No-one from the manufacturing firm was available for comment when contacted on Thursday.

Paul Daniels, employment solicitor
"Let's have sensible rules that allow an employee to claim unfair dismissal from day one."
See also:

09 Nov 01 | Business
Shake-up for workers' rights
26 Jun 01 | Health
Anti-smoking focus for GPs
05 Sep 00 | Health
Clampdown on smoking at work
31 May 00 | Scotland
Crusade against passive smoking
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