Non-smokers tend to resent smoking breaks of other colleagues, says George Martin

Smoke break

Two-thirds (66%) of non-smoking office workers believe it is unfair that those who smoke are allowed to take ‘additional breaks’, research commissioned by has revealed.

A third (30%) of respondents admitted that they had either formally or informally complained about the length and frequency of which smoking breaks were taken.

The study also found that three-fifths (58%) of non-smokers believe that those who smoke during working hours should be made to ‘clock out’ for their breaks, with pay deducted accordingly.

Perhaps even more worryingly for employers, a separate study, conducted on behalf of the British Heart Foundation, found that smokers take ‘unscheduled’ breaks for up to 40 minutes a day. This study also found that smoking cost companies an average of £1,815 per full-time employee who takes regular breaks.

On the other hand, there is the argument that employers should allow their staff to smoke as a coping mechanism, in order to alleviate workplace stress. Despite this, nearly half (44%) of non-smokers described colleagues taking smoking breaks as ‘disruptive’, especially when it disrupts the productivity of a team working together.

Some companies have taken steps to ensure that all workers are given equal breaks, whether they smoke or not. The report quotes Damien, the co-founder and Managing Director of a Digital Marketing Agency, who said:

“To address the situation, we decided to introduce two ten minute breaks on either side of the lunch hour for all the employees. These uninterrupted breaks have worked fantastically well for the smokers as well as non-smokers. It’s created a fair system and I would recommend the same or similar concept to all companies facing the same dilemmas.”