Professionals 'prefer smoke-free offices'

UAE, 12 Aug 2007

Dubai: More than half of the professionals in the UAE and the rest of the Middle East want a ban on smoking in the office, according to a survey done by a Dubai-based regional on-line recruitment portal.

GulfTalent conducted the on-line survey of 5,000 professionals working in nine Arab countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Egypt, and through interviews with Human Resource managers.

It found that 54 per cent wanted a complete ban on smoking on office premises, while 44 per cent allowed smoking only in designated areas. Overall, 98 per cent of the respondents favoured some form of restriction on smoking in the office, leaving two per cent who did not want any restrictions on smoking.

The survey further found that 62 per cent of the UAE companies had banned smoking in office, with the healthcare sector leading the way. The least compliant sector was the legal profession, with only 31 per cent of law firms applying a smoking ban.


Commenting on the survey, Dr Layla Al Marzouqi, cardiologist at Dubai Hospital and anti-tobacco activist, told Gulf News employers should heed the findings.

"It's a very good thing to ban smoking in the office and if you ask the smokers, even they want a ban because it will help them quit," she said. "But it will not work everywhere unless there is a law."

She added that having a smoking ban on the premises was also no guarantee for a smoke-free environment unless there was strong enforcement, coordination and awareness of the rule.

"Even at my hospital where smoking is banned, we have people, including the staff, going into the toilets and smoking, so it is a lack of enforcement, coordination and awareness issue," Dr Layla said.

Dubai recently passed a smoking ban in government offices and plans to impose restrictions on smoking in malls, businesses and hotels, which received overwhelming support from residents.

The UAE and Qatar have the third highest rate of smokers in the region with 32 per cent. Egypt and Jordan have the highest rate of smokers with 38 per cent while Saudi Arabia and Lebanon come second with 36 per cent.