Workers at Enfield Borough Council have been left fuming after they were ordered to smoke a minimum of 25 metres away from any council building.

An email sent to staff, seen by the Enfield Independent, states that employees can only smoke during authorised breaks.

The move is intended to ensure a smoke-free working environment, but has left a sour taste in the mouths of some staff.

One council worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "This is completely authoritarian by the council against those who want to smoke. I do not understand why they have decided to run with this."

Another said: "The totalitarian stance taken on this is wrong. More than 25m is quite excessive in my opinion and unfair on workers."

The email, sent to staff on January 10, reads: "The council is committed to ensuring that all our workplaces are smoke-free, and all employees and workers have a right to work in a smoke-free environment.

"All employees and workers are required to minimise the effects of their smoke on others whilst at work. Therefore, are not allowed to smoke within a minimum distance of 25m from any council building and are requested to extinguish their cigarettes and dispose of them appropriately."

The email also states that smoking is only permitted when workers are going "to and from work" and during authorised breaks.

It added: "We would like to remind all employees’ and workers that smoking is not permitted during working hours. This applies to all staff irrespective of where they work (in a council building or outdoors, or when driving a vehicle during working hours). Staff wishing to smoke can only do so on the way to and from work and during authorised breaks."

The email concludes by giving website links and phone numbers to stop smoking companies.

An Enfield Council spokesman said:  "We are absolutely committed to minimising the impact of tobacco smoke on our staff and visitors to our buildings and the communication sent to staff was designed to inform them of our policy with respect to our no smoking at work policy.

"While staff are prohibited from smoking during work hours, we do allow them to smoke, if they wish, during their authorised breaks. Our policy is proportionate, sensible and designed to protect public health."