Press releases

Bn on taking snus at workplaces not founded in an act

Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin: City of Kouvola exceeded its powers

A prohibition imposed by the City Board in Kouvola on taking snus (moist snuff) at the City's workplaces is not founded in the Tobacco Act, Deputy-Ombudsman Maija Sakslin finds in her decision on a complaint concerning the matter. In imposing the prohibition, the City Board exceeded its powers.

In December 2011 the City Board had approved a plan of action designated "Smoke-free Kouvola". It meant that city employees were forbidden to smoke or use snus during working hours except during the meal and coffee breaks that are provided for in their collective employment contracts. Employees were forbidden to take snus in, for example, their own offices or rooms.

In the report it gave the Ombudsman, the City cited the nature of municipal work as justification for the ban. Municipal employees serve as examples for children and adolescents, and persons performing care or customer service tasks can not take snus during working hours.

Taking snus constitutes smoking in the meaning of the law

Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin points out that under the Tobacco Act it is forbidden to take snus in spaces where smoking is forbidden by the Act.

Examples of such places are indoor spaces and outdoor areas of educational establishments, indoor spaces reserved for the public and clients in public offices as well as common and public areas in workplaces and indoor spaces intended for clients.

The smoking ban must be extended to work areas other than those provided for in the Act only when the reason for the ban is exposure of others to tobacco smoke.

Smoking bans must be founded in an Act

Smoking bans must be founded in an Act, Deputy-Ombudsman Sakslin points out.  As a body that is a part of the public authorities, a municipality must scrupulously observe the law in all of its public actions.

Since the Kouvola City Board had prohibited the taking of snus in City workplaces more broadly than is provided for in the Tobacco Act, she deemed it to have exceeded its powers.

Additional info will be provided by Senior Legal Adviser Ulla-Maija Lindström, tel. + 358(0)9 432 3355.