Copenhagen kicks the habit

Employees of the City of Copenhagen cannot smoke in their workplace from January 2007 onwards. Staff working with children cannot even step outside for a smoke

Starting in 2007, the City of Copenhagen plans to become a smoke-free workplace, the Copenhagen City Council decided on Thursday.

In one of the European countries most reluctant to impose far-reaching smoking bans, the decision was hailed as groundbreaking.

By a vote of 45-5, the council decided to make has taken a step towards clearing the air for the city's 43,000 employees by 2007, making it off limits for smokers to light up inside.

City workers will be permitted to smoke outside their workplaces, but they will be directed to smoke in areas where others are not affected by it.

The council rejected a proposal that would have allowed city workplaces to set up indoor smoking rooms.

The city's smoking policy will also prohibit city employees who work with children from smoking at any time when children are present, indoors or out, both on school grounds and during field trips.

Home care workers will be instructed not to smoke in private homes, and recipients of home care will be asked not to smoke while their care giver is present. Special consideration could be made for nursing home residents, however.

In order to help affected workers, the council also passed a resolution that would provide smoking cessation courses for city employees.

The city, however, did leave the door open for city smokers to light up inside in certain instances. One point under the smoking policy would allow managers to set aside the rules in special cases.

The Danish Cancer Association said that it doubted that the ban would incite smokers to drop the cigarettes. On the other hand, non-smokers would get rid of their involuntary role as passive smokers.

`We have seen that people switch jobs if they are very opposed to the smoking ban. Those who remain continue to smoke, but they generally smoke less during work hours, and that limits passive smoking,' said Niels Them Kjær, project leader at the Cancer Association.

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