Ditching cigarettes is not just better for your health, but for your business too

October 2, 2017

In aid of this year’s Stoptober, Becky offers up her experience of how quitting smoking can improve a team and a business.

By Becky Mee

I’ll admit it; I’m a reformed ‘Fag Ash Lil’. Plus, I’m also one of those ex-smokers who has managed to quit by will power alone, though I have fallen off the wagon once since I wrote my original Stoptober blog last year.

So, in the spirit of National No Smoking Day, here are my thoughts on how kicking the habit can be so much better for your team and your business.

I fell off the wagon this year mainly due to a taxing time both personally and work wise and this made me rethink how quitting smoking can be approached at work. Previously, working on ships, I had started smoking again as the cigarettes were so cheap and it gave me a reason to take a break and clear my head at busy or stressful times.

As the HR Manager on board, this raised some interesting questions as my department was responsible for the overall welfare of all the employees – both physical and mental. We were offering a service by selling the cigarettes in the staff bar, but also seeing an increase in employees with respiratory and general health issues affecting their productivity. Smoking was becoming a hot topic and as a management team, we started to look at our whole approach to health and employee wellbeing.

We had the luxury of having a resident medical team who we could coordinate our approach with. We took October as the kick off for our own ‘Stoptober’ and organised a series of events at different times of day. These were scheduled to happen in back of house staff areas as well as out in the departments. Ranging from talks on the wider effects of smoking, through to lung capacity checks and advice on how to stop smoking, to a ‘Biggest Quitter’ competition where we sponsored people to quit, we had a lot of overall interest.

Looking back on it now, we could have done even more around why people were smoking and support with wider stress management and relief. Taking time to relax with friends, practicing yoga or Pilates, meditating and taking stock of how you’re organising your time and reacting to situations can all help. Informal peer support groups are another great stress-reliever.

The big question – What worked well in terms of helping our employees to quit? When we spoke with the quitters at the end of the 3-month period, they said:

  • We had a support network around us.
  • We had a clear reason why we wanted to quit and we made it visual at the start of the process. One colleague had a picture of her father holding her son as a baby in his arms; he died shortly after the picture was taken from lung cancer, as he had been a heavy smoker all his life. She didn’t want history to repeat itself.
  • The medical team were more like mentors to us and held us accountable to our goal.
  • We celebrated successes of how many days without a cigarette.
  • We found a way to exercise together regularly.
  • We had access to tools to help us quit e.g. patches, gum, meditation and hypnosis sessions.

Now, not everyone has access to an in house medical team, but there are loads of other resources available for you through the NHS website.

Your Occupational Health provider or a specialist employee wellbeing coach can also support your business with materials or drop in sessions that don’t have to cost the earth.

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

Why not join our mailing list...




  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.