No smoking sign
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A leading Labour-run council banned staff from smoking at their desks if they were working from home in what campaigners say is an emerging "moral crusade" by local authorities against tobacco lovers.

Hammersmith and Fulham council, which represents one of the country's richest areas in London, told its staff in guidance that "any part of a private dwelling used solely for work purposes will be required to be smoke-free".

The guidance was issued in 2015 in a joint "bi-borough corporate health and safety "document setting out the council's no smoking policy with Royal Kensington and Chelsea.

A spokesman for Kensington and Chelsea, which had told its staff that "home workers should not smoke at their workstation during office hours", dropped the smoking ban on home workers when it issued new guidance in February this year.

The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham declined to comment. However a council source said the advice, while still technically in force, was being replaced. The source added that no staff member had been disciplined for a breach of the smoking ban for home workers.

The edict is highlighted in a new report, funded by the pro-smoking group Forest and published tomorrow by the freedom campaign the Manifesto Club.

The report, titled "Smokefree Ideology - How local authorities are waging war on choice and personal freedom", found that, out of 147 of councils, with an explicit policy on cigarette breaks, 88 restricted them, 49 banned them and just 10 allowed workers to smoke.

Some 50 councils banned smoking and/or vaping breaks entirely, even if workers were clocked out. This included bans on smoking or vaping while walking between work appointments.

More than 100 councils banned smoking outside of council buildings and grounds. In one instance Islington council ordered its staff to move 50m away from its buildings before lighting up.

Denbighshire banned smoking in civic centres, country parks and outside facilities while the report uncovered bans on smoking on beaches in Pembrokeshire and Swansea.

Nottingham Council and Rushcliffe banned smoking at council events. Bracknell Forest banned smoking in council-managed open spaces.

Josie Appleton, the report's author, said: "This isn't about passive smoking risks - it's a moral crusade. Smoking is being treated as a shameful activity that should never be seen in public spaces or near official buildings.

"Absurdly, some councils are stopping their workers from vaping too, which makes it harder for smokers to give up.

"It would be better if councils focused on providing public services, rather than interfering in the lifestyle choices of their employees and residents."

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association's Community Well-being Board, defended the councils telling the Telegraph that they were being "responsible employers".

He said: "Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death. Reducing smoking rates is the single biggest thing we can do to improve the nation's health, as it will reduce cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions and cancer, meaning people can live longer in better health.

"The Government has rightly pledged to end smoking in England by 2030 as part of a range of measures to tackle the causes of preventable ill health.

"As responsible employers and public health leaders, councils make no apology for leading by example and looking to protect the health of their employees and the wider public."