Antismoking Policies at Work Help Smokers Kick Habit
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Policies that prohibit smoking in the workplace can help employees kick the habit, according to a report published in the May issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the journal of the American Public Health Association
According to the survey, more than 26% of smokers who were prohibited from smoking at work had quit in the past 6 months, compared with about 19% of smokers in communities with no antismoking ordinance. Smoke-free offices were more likely to exist in communities with laws that restrict smoking, the investigators found.
``Policies that restrict work site smoking may reduce smoking behavior by reducing the opportunity to smoke, by decreasing pressures to smoke, and by increasing social support for cessation,'' write Dr. Joel M. Moskowitz, and colleagues from the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco.
Their study found that employees benefited if the community in which they worked had a strong workplace smoking law regardless of race and ethnicity.
In an interview with Reuters Health, Moskowitz said there are few cost-effective methods to reduce the burden that cigarette smoking imposes on society's health. The present study suggests that the adoption of 100% smoke-free workplace laws would substantially reduce the number of smokers and reduce the exposure of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke.
``This would result in major reductions in smoking-related diseases, disabilities and premature deaths...and also yield major economic benefits to our society due to reduced tobacco-related medical expenditures, which currently amount to over $70 billion per year,'' he said.
The team of researchers examined about 500 California cities and counties with antismoking ordinances. More than 4,600 adults who worked in an office outside their home in California and smoked cigarettes 6 months before the survey were included.
The investigators also found that people who worked in offices that prohibited smoking were more likely to be educated, non-Hispanic, work indoors and to be employed at a large worksite.
Blacks were less likely to quit smoking than other racial groups and Hispanics were more likely to quit, although employees who reported that their worksite had a smoking policy tended to be non-Hispanic.
Moskowitz speculated that Hispanics tend to smoke fewer cigarettes than non-Hispanics and that individuals who smoke less tend to be more successful at quitting because they are less addicted to nicotine.
An analysis of former smokers who quit within 5 years of the survey revealed that antismoking policies had a lasting effect on quitting beyond the initial 3-month analysis.
The authors argue that public policy should support the passage of strong antismoking ordinances.