Hospital Employees Are Exposed to Secondhand Smoke
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Though indoor smoking is banned at medical centers, many employees continue to smoke, thereby exposing a significant percentage of non-smoking employees to secondhand smoke, according to results of a recent survey.
Dr. John S. Neuberger and colleagues at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City surveyed the employees of the University of Kansas Medical Center about their use of tobacco and about exposure to secondhand smoke.
The investigators found that about 12% of full-time employees were current smokers, and more than one-third had smoked at some time in their lives. Faculty employees were less likely to be current smokers than non-faculty staff.
A startling 67% of survey respondents said that they had been exposed to secondhand smoke in the previous week, and 25% said they had been exposed at the Medical Center, the authors report in the September issue of Preventive Medicine.
Comparing their findings to those of similar studies at other hospitals and medical centers, Neuberger and colleagues conclude that ``a smoking ban, even indoor-only, was effective in reducing the prevalence of smoking among employees.'' The researchers note, however, that total smoking bans seem to be more effective at getting employees to quit.
``Studies of indoor-only bans had a post-ban decrease in smoking prevalence ranging from 8% to 9%. In contrast, the studies of total smoking bans showed post-ban decreases ranging from 9% to 43%,'' the researchers write.
Neuberger and colleagues suggest that educational campaigns at medical centers, support of existing cessation programs, and locating smoking areas away from frequently traveled public areas could contribute to reducing the number of smokers and decreasing the exposure of non-smokers to secondhand smoke.
Neuberger's team also recommends that medical centers set an appropriate example and encourage their employees to quit by adopting campus-wide smoking bans instead of just banning smoking indoors.