HC Deb 04 March 2003 vol 400 c996W
Chris Grayling

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance his Department plans to give to its employees on actions to take on No Smoking Day. [98840]

Ms Blears

The Department sees No Smoking Day as an important opportunity to actively encourage those employees who smoke to quit. In the run-up to 12 March, the staff magazineLink is carrying an article on smoking which includes information about support available to smokers. The article publicises the national health service smoking helpline (0800 169 0169) and the core care welfare service (0800 652 3304) which are both available to employees who want to give up smoking. In addition, No Smoking Day posters and displays will be placed in the Department.

The Department already gives employees who wish to attend cessation groups reasonable time off to do so and reimburses the prescription cost of one week's supply of nicotine replacement therapy. In addition, the Department is piloting an on-site smoking cessation group for London-based staff. This has been scheduled to follow No Smoking Day, in the hope that it will attract employees who have set a quit date. The group will run from every Thursday from 20 March from 4.00–5.00 pm for seven weeks in the same format as NHS groups. Subject to the success of this pilot, this may be extended to other areas of the Department.