Medical tests have proven that by being a second-hand smoker (or passive smoker) you run the risk of getting lung cancer or heart related diseases, just as much as the active smoker, simply by inhaling the cigarette smoke. Tests have also indicated that tobacco smoke causes migraine and asthma attacks amongst both the active and passive smoker. Consequently, the National Department of Health has placed a duty on all employers to provide (as far as practically possible) a safe and healthy environment to all their employees.
South Africa’s anti-smoking legislation seeks to provide all employees with a work environment free of tobacco smoke, and prohibits smoking in all types working environments, including the office, whether it is occupied by one person or more. If an employer does not abide to this smoking policy, and ignores their employees’ health related complaints caused by the second-hand smoke in the working environment, the employer may be sued for any resultant damage to the employee’s health. However, employees are also responsible for taking care of their health for both their own sakes and those of others, by cooperating with the employer in complying with Health and Safety legislation set by the government. Employers are urged to implement a Smoking Policy in their offices to ensure that all employees know and understand their rights and obligations when it comes to smoking in the workplace.
Common smoke-free areas in and around the office that should be subject to a smoking policy include:
- Car parks
It is important to inform clients, visitors and temporary staff of your workplace’s smoking policy. Designated signage can be posted at main traffic areas urging them to abide to the policy. The Company’s Smoking Policy can be communicated internally by sending staff members a copy of the smoking policy.
Please note that this information is supplied for general information and does not constitute legal advice. It is advisable for you to contact a legal practitioner for guidance in respect of your unique requirements.