By Daniel Hunter

Four in ten smokers admit they deliberately skive from work by hanging around outside on cigarette breaks, a study has revealed. Researchers found six in ten smokers take extra breaks throughout the day to have a cigarette, on top of their usual lunch and coffee breaks, without making the time up.

And 42% admitted to ‘lingering’ outside almost five minutes longer than they need to so they can avoid going back to their desk.

So, it’s not surprising that a staggering 83% of non-smokers simply see smoking breaks as an excuse for their smoking colleagues to catch up and chat outside of their lunch hour.

Almost half of non-smokers also think the constant breaks mean their smoking counterparts are less productive than they are, with four in ten saying it’s down to fact that some of their working hours are spent smoking instead of at their desk.

“Cigarette breaks can be a contentious issue between smoking and non-smoking colleagues," Adrian Everett, CEO of E-Lites which commissioned the research said.

”It’s particularly worse if smokers don’t make up the time they spend on cigarette breaks by deducting time from their lunch hour or by working late.

“This is an issue which can easily be resolved through the use of e-cigarettes which workers can enjoy whilst sitting at their desks.

”However some smokers do feel that they are more productive after taking a smoking break.”

The study found that the average smoker takes two cigarette breaks during the working day, with each one lasting an average of more than six minutes — the equivalent of more than an hour a week.

More than one in ten smokers admit they go on at least five smoking breaks every working day, with another 12% saying their smoking breaks last at least 11 minutes each.

More than two thirds of smokers have been caught skiving by their boss or colleagues, with over one in ten having been given a formal warning or even getting sacked because of it.

Not surprisingly, almost eight in ten non-smokers think it is unfair that their colleagues who enjoy a cigarette get more time away from work than they do.

And almost half of them think the constant breaks mean their smoking counterparts are less productive than they are, with four in ten saying it’s down to fact that some of their working hours are spent outside smoking instead of at their desk.

Six in ten non-smokers said that they have had to cover for their colleagues who are on a cigarette break, with 42% having to answer their phone and 27% being left to deal with clients or customers in their absence.

They have also had to attend meetings in their place, do their work and make excuses for them when their boss asks where they are.

Almost one in five non-smokers have even complained to their boss about the amount of time their smoking colleagues take on their breaks, and more than a third said they would prefer that their colleagues used e-cigs so they weren’t always heading outside for a cigarette.

But it’s not just non-smokers who find long or frequent smoking breaks divisive.

More than a third of managers, even managers who smoke themselves, claim that they have disciplined a member of staff for spending too long having a cigarette during work hours.

Another 20% admit that although they haven’t actually said anything, they have thought about it or wanted to.

44% of bosses said that they let their smoking team members take a cigarette break whenever they want, even though 45% admit that they think non-smokers are the most productive members of staff.

To cut back on the time their workers spend away from their desk, 39% of managers said they would be happy to allow smokers to use e-cigarettes within the work place.

“The research proves that managing the issue of smoking in the workplace can be a tricky. So encouraging smokers to use e-cigs instead of tobacco cigarettes, to reduce the number of smoking breaks, could be the ideal solution,” Adrian concluded.

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