Smokers burning up time in the work place

WORKERS who duck out of the office for quick puffs of nicotine throughout the day end up working four hours less a week than their non-smoking colleagues.

There are about 15,900 smokers in Bundaberg, University of Adelaide figures show, and a study says an average smoker spends 45 minutes away from their work every day smoking.

Australian researcher Ken Pidd said allowing smokers to take breaks and not allowing non-smokers created animosity.

"It does come to the issue where smokers are becoming a minority… and they're getting benefits non-smokers aren't," he said.

Queensland Health figures show about 19% of the Wide Bay health area population, which includes Bundaberg, smoke on a daily basis.

The survey from UK company Voucher Codes Pro said the average employed smoker took smoking breaks that added up to 45 minutes a day and 22 working days in a year.

Dr Pidd, who is deputy director of Australia's National Research Centre on Alcohol and Other Drugs Workforce Development, said some industries were worse than others when it came to smoking on the job.

His research revealed some major problems in the hospitality industry, where becoming a smoker was the only way to get a break.

It was common for smokers to be allowed breaks but if a non-smoker took a break, they would be told to get back to work.

But Dr Pidd, who used to be a smoker, said new rules being introduced in most workplaces were making it harder for people to smoke at work.

Some workplaces have been known to ban smoking breaks while others require workers to move away from company buildings.

"There has been a huge shift in attitudes towards it and the culture of it," Dr Pidd said. "I think as the workforce is aging, the older people are getting towards the end of their working career and it's easier to bring in those (non-smoking rules) because people are growing up with a no-smoking attitude."

SMOKING

About 15,900 smokers in Bundaberg

19% of people in Wide Bay health area smoke on a daily basis

Smokers work four hours less a week than non-smokers because of smoking breaks

This equates to 22 working days a year

Queensland Health is offering a program to help workplaces reduce smoking

Visit workplaces. healthier.qld.gov.au