HUDDERSFIELD business leaders have slammed calls to give workers paid time-off to quit smoking.
Recommendations put forward by NHS watchdog Nice - the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence - say workers should be allowed paid leave to attend stop smoking clinics.
The move comes before the smoking ban comes in on July 1.
But today Steven Leigh, senior policy advisor of the Huddersfield-based Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said businesses should not have to foot the bill.
He said: "I think it is the nanny-state going too far.
"Whilst everyone agrees that stopping smoking is a good thing, this is just another example of the Government unloading the cost onto businesses.
"Why can't treatment be provided outside working hours?
"Smoking is something that people do voluntarily.
"It is difficult to stop and people have got to want to do it for themselves.
"Of course, businesses should be supportive.
"They already do a lot for their employees but this is taking it a step too far.
"It has got to be down to the individual."
Nice - an independent organisation giving guidance - says businesses should make information on local stop smoking services widely available at work.
Where it is feasible, they should also provide on-site stop smoking support.
But Kirklees Primary Care Trust welcomed the guidance.
Dr Judith Hooper, director of public health said: "As an employer, the NHS has set an example by being smoke-free since last year, and providing support to staff who smoke to help them to quit.
"We have also been working with employers across Kirklees to help them introduce a smoke-free environment and supporting their staff to stop smoking."
Currently, smoking costs the NHS an estimated £1.5 billion each year, and costs industry an estimated £5 billion in lost productivity, absenteeism and fire damage.
Andrew Dillon, chief executive of Nice, said:
"Our advice is based on the best evidence of which workplace approaches are effective for smokers and make business sense for employers."
For more information about the Stop Smoking Services contact 01484 344285 or 01924 512079.