Kiwi employers encouraged to help staff become smokefree by paying for them to attend stop-smoking courses

Employers are being encouraged to help staff become smokefree by letting them attend quit programmes during work hours.

It's estimated workers taking four cigarette breaks a day end up working an entire month less than their non-smoking colleagues each year.

Now an initiative, funded by the Nelson Marlborough DHB, is working with businesses to establish quit groups.

"Everyone's lifestyles are so busy now," health promoter Gayle Hay told 1 NEWS.

"People finding the time to access the support either in work time or after hours is really really difficult".

Workers meet up weekly for seven weeks and where possible, employers are asked to pay their wages for that time.

"How we're engaging with businesses, is if say their staff are taking four, ten minute breaks a day, it actually works out they're working a month less than non-smokers annually. 

"The other thing is, for smokers, they're taking around three times more sick leave than non-smokers," said Ms Hay.

Nelson woman Lonae Paul was one of the first to sign up, having attempted to kick the habit on her own five times.

"It's easy just to pick up that cigarette and just go for gold again you know. Times get hard and it's just easier to give up," she said.

The support of her workmates and others in the support group has been the breakthrough she needed.

"You feel responsible for giving it everything you've got because you feel like if you pick up that cigarette, you're letting them down as well".

Since completing the programme, Lonae Paul and all other participants in the support group remain smokefree.

Employers are being encouraged to help staff quit smoking by letting them attend programmes during work hours. Source: 1 NEWS