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Council updates smoking policy to leave no excuse for ignorance

An updated policy on smoking is being introduced across the new council area to get the message across: Smoking – real or otherwise – is just not allowed.

Additional signage will also be going up to inform staff and members of the public of the rules and regulations.

Staff who break the rules could face disciplinary proceedings, while members of the public who do not comply and fail to take notice could face legal action.

The policy, which came before a council committee last night (Wednesday), was to provide additional information in relation to the use of vaporisers and Nicotine Containing Products (NCP’s) which replicate smoking behaviour, such as ‘electronic cigarettes’.

The Council wishes to ensure that smokers and non-smokers have a clear understanding of their rights and obligations and comply with the Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, which came into effect on 30th April 2007.

The provisions of the policy, covering all buildings under the control of council throughout the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon areas, will mean that:

Smoking is prohibited in all council buildings and within any vehicles owned or leased by the council except in designated smoking areas. The policy includes the use of vaporisers and NCP’s which replicate smoking behaviour, which must not be used in all council premises (including vehicles).

Council would advise that those using such products would do so in an area away from smokers to avoid exposure to second hand smoke.

Smoking is prohibited throughout all enclosed and substantially enclosed council premises with no exceptions. Receptacles will be provided for disposal of cigarette ends and other waste smoking materials.

Smoking is prohibited outside the front or any other public entrances of council buildings.

Smoking areas will be suitably located and clearly signed and away from sources of ignition.

Where council employees have to visit other buildings in the course of their work they must abide by the smoking policy/rules of that establishment.

All council owned and leased vehicles will be smoke-free at all times including the use of vaporisers and NCPs which replicate smoking behaviour

Employees are not permitted to smoke or use vaporisers and NCP’s which replicate smoking behaviour in their own private vehicles when they are carrying passengers on work related journeys.

No Smoking signs must comply with the requirements stipulated within the Smoking (NI) Order 2006.

Clear signage must be displayed at each entrance to smoke free premises and in each separate compartment of smoke free vehicles.

In addition, there will extra signage at the entrances to buildings regularly accessed by members of the public clearly informing them that it is a no-smoking building and that the policy includes the use of vaporisers and NCPs.

The policy states that the use of vaporisers and NCPs are not permitted on Council premises or in vehicles as they may be mistaken for actual smoking and may encourage others to believe that smoking is permitted.

This, councillors have been informed, may result in complaints being made to the council and cause difficulty in the application of the new policy.

The policy will be reviewed periodically and modified as necessary, while assistance will also be given to employees who wish to stop smoking.

All staff will be responsible for monitoring the implementation of the policy and appropriate signs will be posted throughout the buildings and within council vehicles.

A copy will also be posted on notice boards and included in the Employee Handbook.

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