How have others done it?

How have others done it?

Pulse Youth Health South

Northern Suburbs Community Centre Inc

Port Arthur Historic Site

The Port Arthur Historic Site set a new benchmark in workplace health and visitor comfort when it became the first major tourist attraction in Tasmania to go smoke-free.

Carol Armstrong, the Human Resource Manager who was responsible for planning the change, said the move was inevitable.

"Our visitor feedback regularly showed negative comments about smoking on the site. We also wanted Port Arthur to be a place where staff and visitors were safeguarded from the health effects of passive smoking, and the environment was not degraded by litter."

Previously, staff and visitors had been able to light up whenever they wanted. Now there are two designated smoking areas (including one in the car park), and employees who smoke are only permitted to do so during their award rest breaks.

Ms Armstrong said as well as being a worksite, the site was also a family environment. School and educational groups were regular visitors, so it made sense to present healthy behaviour models. "With the recent World Heritage listing, we also considered it important to follow best practice."

Some staff had expressed concerns about telling visitors to 'butt out', but Ms Armstrong said education sessions and role-play had been helpful to practise a polite approach to the situation. There was also an emphasis on informing visitors as much as possible, with signage on site, verbal advice at the ticket counter, and information on tickets and in brochures.

Port Arthur Historic Site employs 130 permanent staff, with an additional 40 in peak tourist season. For the staff who were smokers, support was provided to help them manage their smoking, or use this as an opportunity to quit altogether.

Staff have access to a subsidy of $250 for nicotine replacement therapy for up to three months, with the local medical centre and pharmacy on board to provide advice, support and the subsidised smoking cessation products. These products help smokers to manage cravings during work hours and assist those who want to stop smoking.

An employee has been trained to deliver smoking education groups, and Quit group sessions are run in February - an opportune time to coincide with New Year's resolutions, but after the disruption of the festive season.

Ms Armstrong said that the nature of Port Arthur differed from many other workplaces because there were external as well as internal stakeholders to prepare for.

After the success of the project at Port Arthur, other Historic Sites managed by the Management Authority - Cascades Female Factory and Coal Mines at Saltwater River - are now also smoke-free.

In offering advice to others, Ms Armstrong said "I've learned it takes much longer than you'd think. It's more than just putting up a sign. It takes leadership, commitment and perseverance to make it happen, but there are very good reasons to go smoke-free and the Board and Executive were one hundred per cent behind it all along."

While there was some resistance from a handful of staff during the policy implementation period, the majority of employees were strongly supportive of a smoke-free worksite, and resistance largely evaporated after introduction of the policy.

A resource kit to support implementation of the smoke-free policy, provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, proved useful in planning the change.

Union workplace delegates provided valuable input into the development of the policy, and were not opposed to the policy introduction.

"We understand that this is a very difficult addiction to give up and therefore our approach is one of support and education.

"Our visitor feedback regularly showed negative comments about smoking on the site. We also wanted Port Arthur to be a place where staff and visitors were safeguarded from the health effects of passive smoking, and the environment was not degraded by litter."

Pulse Youth Health South

Pulse Youth Health South, based in Glenorchy, provides a range of health promotion and support services for young people aged 12-24 years in southern Tasmania.

For some time, the service had recognised the importance of modelling healthy behaviours to young people and their communities, and had been working informally on various workplace issues related to smoking. For example, over the last four years, employees who smoke had agreed to be more discreet when smoking during work hours.

This trend was formalised when the service introduced a smoke-free worksite policy, explicitly requiring clients and staff to leave the premises to smoke.

Under the new policy:

  • staff who choose to smoke must smoke out of view of the centre
  • staff who choose to smoke are asked to smoke individually, not as a group or in pairs
  • clients and other visitors are encouraged to smoke away from the centre.

As part of the smoke-free initiative, employees were offered a subsidy for the purchase of smoking cessation products, and Pulse workers provided a clear message to clients that they could support them to be smoke-free or increase their smoke-free time. Employees were trained to run smoking cessation groups for clients, and to promote a smoke-free lifestyle for all young people. This has become an integral part of the services offered by Pulse.

The service had a lead-in time to prepare for and enable cultural change at a grass-roots level. During this time, many discussions were held between service management, employees and clients. This helped everyone to prepare and resulted in better understanding, support and cooperation when the smoke-free worksite policy was introduced.

Putting the new policy in place presented an opportunity to give the old courtyard a 'facelift', and create a healthy and appealing smoke-free space for employees and clients to use. This was an important step in acknowledging the change in workplace culture, and involved young people, staff, artists and community groups.

Going smoke-free: Your workplace kit and regular support from the project officer responsible for this kit helped Pulse maintain a focus on going smoke-free and manage challenges that arose.

One ongoing challenge is that Pulse shares the building and grounds with other services. This means there must be agreement from all building tenants before designating common areas of the premises, including the car park, to be smoke-free. Pulse continues to work with the co-tenants to achieve smoke-free status in common areas.

Getting ready to go smoke-free also took longer than expected. All planning and communication about the changes needed to fit in with the demands of a busy health service. The commitment and motivation of the staff leading the project was an important element in the project's success.

Pulse employees are pleased to have taken this important step towards a healthier workplace environment, while recognising the needs of smokers and non-smokers. Some employees have acknowledged that the introduction of the policy has helped them to increase smoke-free time, or to be smoke-free. Importantly, by promoting a smoke-free environment, Pulse employees are helping to change the mindset that smoking is normal and okay for young people.

Northern Suburbs Community Centre Inc

The Northern Suburbs Community Centre Inc is a not-for-profit organisation, operating from three separate premises in the northern suburbs of Launceston. The centre provides a range of services to support the local community, with programs including a child-care centre and parenting groups.

Many children and young people use the Centre, and its employees are conscious that adult role models have a major influence on the choices young people make, and hence the potential future health of young people.

For this reason - and to demonstrate its commitment to healthier lives in healthier communities - the organisation decided to make the worksite, including all buildings and grounds, smoke-free.

The Northern Suburbs Community Centre Inc is managed by a board of management. As the support of management is an important factor in the success of any new initiative, a submission was provided to and approved by the Board, giving the green light to implementing a smoke-free worksite policy.

Communication with all groups that would be affected by the change was a high priority. Because of this:

  • a working group with representatives of those who would be affected was established to manage and oversee the change
  • when the smoke-free worksite policy document was drafted, it was circulated to employees and centre users with an invitation for feedback
  • time was invested talking to employees and users of the Centre, explaining the purpose of the draft policy and inviting feedback
  • managers kept an 'open door' policy throughout the change period and were available to discuss any concerns with individuals
  • a regular newsletter was circulated, informing employees and centre users of progress towards implementing the smoke-free worksite policy.

The organisation recognised that supporting employees to reduce or quit smoking was an integral part of going smoke-free. Employees were offered subsidised smoking cessation products to help manage withdrawal symptoms while at work and while trying to quit.

Towards the end of implementation, some concern was expressed by a small number of employees and centre users. This was largely because of a misunderstanding about the purpose and intent of the policy. Although the policy was implemented effectively, if the process were to be repeated, the working group would endeavour to make it clear from the outset that employees and centre users were not being asked to give up smoking, just to refrain from smoking on the premises.

The policy was introduced after a four-month implementation period, and was accepted by both employees and centre users. It does not appear to have affected attendance at the centre. Since the implementation process commenced, two employees have given up smoking, and other employees are considering quitting.

In the future, employees will be trained in smoking cessation support and smoking cessation groups will be organised. Other cessation programs will also be provided for the users of the centre.

Employees at the Northern Suburbs Community Centre Inc consider their smoke-free worksite policy to be a great success. They are pleased to be a healthy example to the community while also protecting the health of the young people using their service.