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According to the Institute of Medicine, “research shows that the best way for people to quit smoking is through evidence-based smoking cessation technologies and programs.” Employers are in an excellent position to make these cessation services available and can reap the benefits of a healthier work force, lower absenteeism and decreased health care costs.
Employees accumulate toxins in their bodies from the presence of secondhand smoke in the workplace, and nonsmokers who work in a smoking environment increase their risk of heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and their risk of lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent. Blue collar and service workers are disproportionately affected by secondhand smoke at their jobs, and employees of restaurants, bars, and other hospitality businesses where smoking is allowed are especially likely to suffer the damaging effects of secondhand smoke.
Advocates for clean air in the workplace have seen numerous successes over the past four decades. As of January 2008, 685 local governments and 35 states (plus the District of Columbia) have laws requiring 100 percent smokefree non-hospitality workplaces, and/or restaurants and/or bars. Moreover, at least two state occupational health and safety agencies have adopted regulations prohibiting smoking in certain enclosed places of employment. However, much of the U.S. population still is not covered by a comprehensive smokefree workplace law or regulation.
This section explores policy options for employees to make their workplace smokefree and legal options for employees who remain exposed to secondhand smoke on the job.
For more information about worksite wellness policies relating to nutrition and physical activity, please click here.
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