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Employees get more help to quit smoking and get active

Employees get more help to quit smoking and get active

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 12 September 2011

New Responsibility Deal pledges on health at work and physical activity

Typhoo, McCain and Centrica – who between them employ more than 35,000 people – have today signed up to help their employees to quit smoking by providing workplace stop smoking services or encouraging them to go to appointments during working hours without losing any pay.

In addition, the Co-operative has today unveiled a new individual pledge to encourage more people to become more physically active.

The pledges are part of the Government’s Responsibility Deal, which is working with business and charities to make changes to help make the population healthier. So far, 285 organisations have signed up to be part of the deal.

Companies are being encouraged to get their staff to use online tools such as NHS Lifecheck to help improve their health and well being. They will also be encouraging their employees to take part in more formal screening programmes.

The new pledges were launched at seminars where organisations involved in the Health at Work and Physical Activity networks of the Responsibility Deal got together with Health Ministers Lord Howe and Simon Burns to talk about their progress so far. More companies are expected to sign up to the pledges over the coming weeks.

Lord Howe said:

“It’s really hard to stop smoking – people who want to quit need all the support they can get.

“Around 21 per cent of adults smoke – so an estimated 7,000 smokers work for Centrica, McCain and Typhoo. I’m really pleased these companies are going to help their employees quit and I hope that more will sign up to the pledge.

“We spend a big chunk of our lives at work so it makes sense that employers look after us as best they can. And it’s good business for them to have a healthy and happy workforce.”

Dame Carol Black, Chair of the Health at Work group said:

“Each and every organisation on the Health at Work group has worked hard to bring the Responsibility Deal to life. I’m delighted we’re able to launch two new pledges today which will go even further to improving the health of employees.”

The Co-operative, which is already committed to inspiring young people to lead an active lifestyle, also launched a pledge with its partner Activate Sport – the UK’s leading sports and activity camps provider for children – committing, by 2012, to:

reach 20,000 young people through sports camps; and

double the number of camps to 500 across the UK.

Simon Burns, Minister of State for Health and Co-Chair of the Responsibility Deal Physical Activity Network, welcomed the new individual pledge from The Co-operative and Activate Sport. He said:

“This pledge on behalf of The Co-operative and Activate Sport is a great example of a major retailer working in partnership to promote a range of sport and physical activity opportunities for children and young people.

“This is particularly important for those children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who often face a range of barriers to participate regularly in sport and physical activity.”

Fred Turok, Co-Chair of the Responsibility Deal, Physical Activity Network, said:

“I am delighted that The Co-operative has moved so quickly in setting the standard for business by making a core commitment to the health of the nation, giving opportunities to young people to increase their physical activity levels through their partnership with Activate Sport.

“It is crucial that we improve the nation’s health through physical activity and embed exercise into the DNA of business and the community. I urge other businesses to follow this example and begin to think about their own commitments and role in improving the health of the nation.”

Earlier this summer, guides were also published to help employers and managers help people with long term conditions. These can be found at: Conds_Employees_Factsheet_A4.pdf nicConds_LineManagers_Factsheet_A4.pdf

Notes to editors

1. Launched on 15 March, the Public Health Responsibility Deal has been established to tap into the potential for businesses and other organisations to improve public health and tackle health inequalities through their influence over food, alcohol, physical activity and health in the workplace. For more information on the Responsibility Deal go to tm

2. Partners signing up to the Responsibility Deal have committed to take action to improve public health. This action is expressed as a series of pledges covering food, alcohol, physical activity and health at work. These pledges are not intended to replace Government action. The Government will continue to develop national policy, define priorities and communicate public health messages.

3. The Department of Health has signed up to all the health at work pledges and the relevant physical activity pledges.

4. NHS LifeCheck is a simple, confidential and easy-to-use online tool that will aim to get people thinking and finding out about their health or the health of their children. For more information go to

5. Businesses at the Health at Work seminar include American Express, Coca-Cola, Centrica, EON, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Philips, Pru-Health as well as a number of smaller organisations including charities. Some of these organisations also attended the Physical Activity Seminar, which included representatives of American Express, Danone, Slimming World and Sodexo.

6. The most effective method of stopping smoking is through Local NHS Stop Smoking Services, where a successful quit attempt is up to four times more likely than unassisted (‘cold turkey’) quitting and twice as effective as medication alone. More information is available at or by calling the Smoking Helpline on 0800 022 4332. Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A tobacco control plan for England was published on 9 March 2011: Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_124917


Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221

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