They're part of the landscape these days: the workers huddling together outside offices, clutching their Marlboro Lights to their chest. But if you don't smoke, is it fair that your nicotine-addicted co-workers take so many breaks while you're stuck at your desk?
The bosses at Breckland Council in Norfolk don't think so, which is why they've announced plans to introduce flexi-time cards for employees who smoke. So when they need a cigarette break, they'll have to clock off and make up the time later in the day. In other words, the more they smoke, the more time they'll spend at work (around two hours a week, on average).
If the plan is approved smokers may be forced to clock on and off for breaks from the start of November. And many other businesses could start doing the same. So if you smoke maybe it's time to think about quitting (unless you particularly want to spend more of your precious spare time at work, that is).
Pro-smoking campaigners argue the plan picks on smokers - there again, many councils don't allow smokers to take any cigarette breaks, so could the plan at least offer them the choice to smoke or not to smoke at work?
Does this sound like a good move that would make things fairer for non-smokers, or just another attempt to make us work longer hours? With a new study suggesting the average break for office workers lasts only 16 minutes, it does seem as if employers are trying to squeeze every last drop out of their workers.
What's your opinion? The dabate continues...