Almost half of responders in the survey said that smokers should pay for their own cigarette breaks while on the job.
The study, carried out by analysis group Wilke on behalf of Avisen.dk in May and June, asked 1,020 Danes over the age of 18 whether smoking breaks should be paid for.
44 percent said that employees smoking during working hours should have their wages deducted for the time they are away from their posts.
But almost the same number – 43 percent – said that wage deductions for smoking breaks should not be introduced.
The high proportion of people supporting removing smoking breaks from paid time reflects a desire to humiliate smokers, Søren Gosvig Olesen, a professor of philosophy at the University of Copenhagen, told Avisen.dk.
“In truth, people just want a scapegoat. That way, they feel better about themselves,” Olesen said.
The philosopher said that information campaigns on the dangers of smoking had now been replaced in society by so many rules and bans that smokers had literally been left out in the cold.
“In the past, they could smoke in their offices. Then they had to use special smoking rooms. Now there is no other option than to go outside. At the same time, warnings on cigarette packets have become more gruesome. To put it simply, there is a strong human need to have a group to victimise. And now people want smokers to be paid less,” Olesen, a social smoker, told Avisen.dk.
Karen Stæhr, a chairperson with the FOA trade union, said that it is down to managers to ensure profitability is not affected by smoking breaks.
“I don't think people's wages should be deducted. It is a management task to ensure that people aren't standing outside smoking for eight hours,” Stæhr told Avisen.dk.
The survey reflects a split in the population over the concept of smoking breaks, which are often the source of “very silly” and emotive discussions, she added.
Danish mobile phone and internet service provider TDC introduced wage-deductible smoking breaks in 2013.
A small number of the company's 6,500 employees currently take up the option of purchasing extra smoking breaks, according to news agency Ritzau.
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