On 15 November 2010 an amendment to the Law on Health Protection against the Consequences of Tobacco Products comes into force. The amendment introduces a total ban on smoking, i.e. in hospitals and health clinics, schools and colleges, cultural and recreation sites, pubs and restaurants, sports facilities, public transport and workplaces. Owners or property managers (e.g. hotels, schools, workplaces) may designate smoking rooms on their territory, which means separate facilities that meet certain standards of construction and air ventilation.
Implications for employers
To date smoking in the workplace was also prohibited, but employers with at least 20 staff were obliged to establish a smoking room, regardless of the number of smoking employees. Specific standards in terms of space and ventilation of smoking rooms are governed by general health and safety (BHP) regulations.
After 15 November 2010 the decision on establishment of a smoking room will belong to the owner or administrator of the building. The existing smoking rooms may continue to operate if they meet the standards required by BHP regulations. In addition, the owner or property manager is obliged to put up in visible places clear information about the ban on smoking tobacco in the building. Employees smoking outside designated sites may be punished by a disciplinary penalty, and the employer may be given a mandate.
While considering the establishment of a smoking room in the office, the employer should take into account many aspects. Creation of a smoking room generates costs, but lacking a smoking room will not result in smokers resigning their habit or improving work efficiency. The need to go outside the office premises to smoke results in a loss of working time, and the sight of groups of smokers and cigarette-ends outside the office entrance does not improve company image. Certainly, more effective would be the prevention of psychosocial hazards and the promotion of healthy behaviour by the employer.
Traditional vs. electronic cigarette
For several years e-cigarettes have been available on the market, which are electronic devices that provide inhaled doses of nicotine. The electronic cigarette is a small device – resembling a traditional cigarette – which is electric or battery powered. The “smoke” from an e-cigarette is almost odourless and much less burdensome for non-smokers.
The e-cigarette is a new product and therefore its legal status is varied. In some countries its sale is forbidden, and in some completely legal or permitted under certain conditions. Poland has not yet developed any regulations on the sale and use of e-cigarettes. Recent legal changes have not covered this issue as well, although the Ministry of Health is considering a prohibition of the sale of e-cigarettes in the near future.
To find out more
If you need a detailed interpretation of the new regulations or consultation on creating healthy work environment, please contact the experts at TGC who are briefing businesses and individuals on this area:
Director of the Labour Law Department
Tel.: +48 22 653 3862
Consultant/ Occupational Psychologist
HR Management Department
T: +48 22 653 3866