In my place of employment, I used to sit overlooking the walk of shame that leads to Smoker’s Corner. There is a long path that leads between the two wings of the building, and at the end of that path, the tar lunged gather. Come rain or come shine they make this pilgrimage several times every single day and worship at the feet of the great Lord Nicotine, who laughingly accepts their sacrifice. I will admit to taking a certain level of glee watching smokers soaking in the pouring rain, and I almost admire their dedication to their habit until I get thinking. And it’s always dangerous when I start thinking.
I am not going to try and understand why people smoke, as it is their decision to take up a financially crippling and life debilitating addiction. It is legal for them to do so and if they do it away from me, I am ok with that. If over the course of a lifetime habit they wish to spend a sum of money on tar sticks that could buy a luxury car or a small apartment, that is their choice. But it is time I made a stand for non-smoker’s rights in the workplace.
As I sit overlooking Smoker’s Corner at my workplace, I start thinking, how much are they getting paid to smoke? A smoker doesn’t have to take time out of their lunch break to indulge their habit and they don’t stay longer to make up the time, so they are effectively earning an hourly rate for not working.
I will make a few general assumptions here to craft an image of the average smoker, accepting some people smoke less and others smoke more:
- A smoker takes four cigarette breaks a day
- Five minutes per break including time to and from their desk
- The general working year has 232 days (after 20 days holiday)
This means that my assumed “average smoker” will spend just over 77 hours away from work in the year and most employers accept this as the norm. That is almost 10 full 8-hour working days a year he or she will be paid as I am sat at my desk working. I am all for equality and while government has made some strides to make this a more balanced society, now is the time for non-smokers to gain equal rights.
For this I have two proposals, one of which I definitely favor over the other.
Proposal One (the good one): All non-smokers are legally entitled to an extra 7 days paid holiday. I won’t push for the full 10 days, I am a reasonable man.
Proposal Two (the sensible one): All smokers make a decision to either forfeit 7 days of their holiday entitlement or have reduced break time during their working days. This is the sensible proposal as it could help smokers wanting to quit to quit, help convince those thinking of quitting to quit and make those not wanting to quit to consider quitting. Triple whammy.
As the government is trying to surreptitiously take apart the NHS piece by piece, I suspect the second proposal could lighten the load on an already over burdened health service. That being said, I would also enjoy an extra 7 days to enjoy indulging my hobby searching the Internet for photos of cats in bow ties. I was under the impression that the government was trying to stop people from smoking, and heaven forbid our politicians stand around talking about things without taking action. Again.
So non-smokers unite! It is time to stand up for our rights. We’re mad as hell, don’t cough as much, and we won’t take this any more. Grab your placards and adorn them with such phrases, as “Down with this sort of thing” and “God hates fags”. But please be crystal clear that that people know you are referring to cigarettes with that last one.
We are all made equal. It just happens that some people get 77 hours extra break time every year. For now.
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