13 October 2014

A wide range of major employers have announced their support for the Stoptober quit smoking campaign, including Asda, John Lewis and Unilever, as recent figures reveal that 11 million work days a year are lost to smoking-related sick days.

Stoptober is a 28-day stop smoking challenge, launched by Public Health England (PHE), and offers an opportunity for employers to help their staff to quit smoking.

A source at PHE said it was clear that “smoking is bad for business”, highlighting figures from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) which indicate that:

  • businesses lose approximately 11,597,164 days of productivity every year due to smoking-related sick days, costing £1 billion

  • smoking breaks cost businesses £5 billion a year

  • every year smoking-related deaths result in 158,290 years of lost productivity, costing the economy £3 billion a year

  • each year in England smoking costs society approximately £13.1 billion.

More than 250 companies and organisations, including major employers such as Asda, the British Army, Mars, Ford, Britvic, John Lewis, British Airways and Unilever, are supporting and participating in the Stoptober campaign, offering support to over a million employees.

Professor Kevin Fenton, National Director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE said, “The figures speak for themselves — businesses can play an important role in helping their employees and see the benefits of a smoke-free workforce. Quitting smoking is one of the most significant health improvements a person can make and it is encouraging to see so many businesses and employers supporting Stoptober to help make their workplace happier and healthier places for their staff.”

A range of free resources are available for employers to support staff with the 28-day quit attempt. Further information can be accessed at the Smokefree Resource Centre.