Firms should implement smoke-free policies

Employers can also take a more positive stance towards the anti-smoking issue by way of adopting certain human resource criteria.
Employers can also take a more positive stance towards the anti-smoking issue by way of adopting certain human resource criteria.PHOTO: ST FILE

Everyone should make a concerted effort to get involved in the campaign against smoking (Firmer steps in the anti-smoking fight; Jan 8).

Often, I have observed elderly patients puffing away at a cigarette just after their medical appointments at the neighbourhood polyclinics. As they are more prone to age-related conditions, such as hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes, doctors should remind these patients of the ills of smoking.

Most of these seniors are under the notion that it is all right for them to smoke as long as they are on medication, but they do not realise that their condition will worsen if they indulge in this harmful habit.

Employers can also take a more positive stance towards the anti-smoking issue by way of adopting certain human resource criteria.

Take, for example, the case of two employees, one of whom smokes and the other does not, as they are being considered in a promotion exercise. Pragmatically, all things being equal, the promotion should preferably be given to the non-smoker as, simply put, an employee with smoking-related conditions may cause unnecessary disruption to the work schedule as he is more likely to fall sick.

Of course there will be anti-discrimination laws to deal with before this happens.

It is, thus, pivotal for companies to implement smoke-free policies and help employees to quit smoking for the simple reason that it is not just a health issue, but also a business issue.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2019, with the headline 'Firms should implement smoke-free policies'. Print Edition | Subscribe