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Smokers at work

The question

Tower Hamlets council is to make its smokers work an extra 30 minutes a day to make up for the time they waste on smoking breaks. How do you think smokers should be treated at work?

If we are not to discriminate against smokers, be 'good' employers and not burden non-smokers with additional work, then providing unpaid time for smokers to smoke during the working day is reasonable. Would I expect an employer to provide me with paid time to leave my work and drink alchohol or take drugs to which I was addicted?

Richard Monk, 43, director, East Midlands

As most workers take small breaks now and again, smokers are probably not taking much more time off than non-smokers, so the action by Tower Hamlets council is slightly unfair. However, if it helps to turn people off smoking even just a little then this can only be a good thing. How about making all smokers work in a small room with no ventilation where they can smoke as much as they like whilst working? Then they wouldn't have to take breaks.

Michael Harbottle, 25, geotechnical engineer, Herts

If smokers are encouraged to quit through their conditions of employment then that should be good. They should also be required to clear up the left over cigarette ends that are now an all too common site outside offices. There could be a debatable precedent set by Tower Hamlets in that the same principle could be applied to coffee breaks, snack breaks, sandwich breaks, toilet breaks, excessive meetings, etc. etc. It all comes down to the usual test of reasonableness.

Ian Hope, 39, non-smoker, project manager, West Yorkshire

Everyone should be treated the same - as non-smokers.

Anthony Taylor, 56, consultant, St.Albans

I get annoyed when staff are missing from their desks but I think the outside smokers' club has a useful purpose. I guess as a result of being a threatened group, smokers from across disciplines and grades form bonds far stronger than those wimps who make milky tea together in the kitchen. I think my jobs progress better because of these bonds. But for routine non creative work I think Tower Hamlets has it right.

Martin Hordyk, 56, non smoker, engineer, London

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