Smokers are finding it harder to indulge their habit at work these days as more companies enact a policy of zero-tolerance toward tobacco.
The Bureau of Health Promotion is presenting 673 companies with Healthy Workplace accreditation today. Criteria for the accreditation covers a range of areas, however, having a smoke-free environment for all employees is a requirement, the bureau's Deputy Director General Chao Kun-yu (趙坤郁) said.
"Other health-promoting efforts are important too, but our top priority is to get tobacco out," Chao said.
In anticipation of the total ban on workplace smoking that will be enacted by law in 2009, Taiwan Mobile (台灣大哥大) said banned smoking in its Taipei office last month, said the company's labor safety director Amy Chang (陳純惠). Taiwan Mobile was one of the companies which received bureau accreditation.
"We got rid of the smoking room," Chang said. "Now if you want to smoke, you have to take it outside."
Chang said that smokers put up little resistance and have mostly cut down on their cigarettes rather than put up with the inconvenience of leaving the building to smoke -- and the hectoring of their non-smoking workmates.
"Yeah, if I see them smoking on my way into the office, I'll say something," Chang said.
The Merry Life Cosmetic Beauty Co, another company receiving the healthy workplace accreditation, has gone one step further.
Vice general manager Chu-en Huang (黃主恩) said that smoking is not allowed anywhere on the company's premises, even outside.
Repeat offenders could find their annual bonuses revoked, or even get a pink slip. Some smokers initially complained that the measures were "inhumane," Huang said.
"Luckily, we haven't had to seriously punish anyone yet," Huang said, "But we will if we have to."
Huang said that only one out of a staff of 40 still smokes during work hours.
"He has cut down from 16 cigarettes to only two during a workday," Huang said. "And he smokes in his car where his co-workers cannot see him because he gets embarrassed."
Starting in 2009, all workplaces will need to be smoke-free by law when July's amendment to the Tobacco Control Act (煙害防治法) goes into effect.