22/10/2012 11:37 BST

Most Brits Think Smokers Should Have Their Wages Cut

More than half of Brits resent colleagues who smoke and insist cigarette breaks should be docked from their wages, according to a new survey.

Of the 3,546 Brits asked by consumer website Watch My Wallet, 58% said they smokers who took breaks to indulge their nicotine habit should have the time docked from their pay packets

Another 26% of the survey's responders said smokers should be paid the same, regardless of cigarette breaks, while 16% said they should only be paid less if taking more breaks lowered their productivity.

One respondent, Julian Scriven from the west Midlands, said: “Why should they get more breaks just because they smoke? I do more work than my non-smoking colleagues but get paid the same. I was discussing this very thing on an Internet forum during work hours yesterday and everyone agrees with me."'s spokesman Sean O'Meara said: "We were stunned by the findings. It's amazing to think that the majority of the country is silently seething about the amount of time smokers spend away from their desks for cigarettes, without it affecting their wages."

The research lands as thousands of people enter their third week of Stoptober, backed by Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation, which hopes to help many of England's eight million smokers to quit successfully.

Research shows people who stop smoking for 28 days are five times more likely to stay smoke-free.

Smokers who join Stoptober are given free support to help them quit, including a mobile phone app that can monitor quitters' progress and offer daily motivational texts to keep them on track.

There is also a Stoptober Facebook page where people can exchange ideas and get additional tips and advice.

Smoking is the biggest cause of premature death in England and each year it accounts for over 100,000 deaths in the UK and one in two long-term smokers will die prematurely from a smoking disease.

Money is often cited as a good reason to quit smoking - but in Holland, the government has experimented with paying smokers who want to quit.

In January 2011, the Dutch government agreed to reimburse its citizens for their smoking cessation treatments, which included group, face-to-face or telephone counseling.

Providers of the therapies were encouraged to incorporate medications, such as nicotine replacement products or the antidepressant buproprion, into the treatment program.

The initiative was promoted through a large-scale media campaign, but the government ended the programme after only one year, when the researchers say it was stopped for political and economic reasons.

According to a Reuters report, even this short programme gave the researchers the opportunity to see what impact - if any - it had on the number of people calling the cessation hotline and enrolling in programmes in 2011 compared to 2010 and the first half of 2012.

In 2010, when there was no reimbursement system, 848 smokers enrolled in the hotline's smoking-cessation programs; by contrast, 9,091 smokers enrolled in the hotline's programs during 2011, the year the reimbursement offer was in effect - a more than 10-fold rise over the previous year.

During the first four and a half months of 2012, however, 151 smokers enrolled in the program - a decline even from 2010 rates. By mid-May in 2010, 323 people had enrolled.

Marc Willemsen, the study's lead author and a professor at Maastricht University in The Netherlands, told Reuters that on this evidence, members of parliament and health organisations protested, and the reimbursement system is being reinstated for 2013.