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Tobacco Use in the Workplace:
A Model Policy

Employers concerned about their employees may be able to improve their health and help them be more productive by creating tobacco-free workplaces. Many state and local governments now require workplaces to be smoke-free. Making your workplace completely tobacco-free can have an even greater impact. Both tobacco user and non-user employees may be helped by such policies.

Benefits of a tobacco-free workplace

For the employees

  • A tobacco-free environment helps create a safer, healthier workplace.
  • Workers who are bothered by smoke will not be exposed to it at work.
  • Tobacco users who want to quit may have more of a reason to do so.
  • Those who use tobacco may appreciate a clear company policy about tobacco use at work.
  • Managers are relieved when there is a clearly defined process for dealing with tobacco in the workplace.

For the employer

  • A tobacco-free environment helps create a safer, healthier workplace.
  • Direct health care costs to the company may be reduced.
  • A clear plan that is carefully put into action by the employer to lower employees' exposure to secondhand smoke shows the company cares.
  • Employees may be less likely to miss work due to tobacco-related illnesses.
  • Maintenance costs go down when tobacco, smoke, matches, and cigarette butts are taken out of work facilities.
  • Office equipment, carpets, and furniture last longer.
  • The risk of fires is lower.
  • It may be possible to get lower rates on health, life, and disability insurance coverage as fewer employees use tobacco

Here is a model of a policy employers can use to help establish and maintain a tobacco-free workplace for themselves and for their employees. It can be adapted as needed. If your workers are represented by a union, work with them to create your tobacco-free policy. Worker safety and health is a key union concern, too. You can learn a lot more about tobacco-free policies in the “To learn more” section.

A model policy

Because we recognize the hazards caused by exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, as well as the life-threatening diseases linked to the use of all forms of tobacco, it shall be the policy of ____________, effective [DATE], to provide a tobacco-free environment for all employees and visitors. This policy covers the smoking of any tobacco product and the use of oral tobacco products or “spit” tobacco, and it applies to both employees and non-employee visitors of ____________.

Definition

    1. No use of tobacco products will be allowed within the facilities of ____________ at any time.

    The decision to not provide designated smoking areas outside the building will be at the discretion of management or other decision-making body.

    The designated smoking area will be located at least 20 feet from the main entrance. (Some companies may want to establish a larger smoke-free zone, choose a different location for smoking, or have no smoking on their property.)

    All materials used for smoking in this area, including cigarette butts and matches, will be extinguished and disposed of in appropriate containers. Supervisors will ensure periodic cleanup of the designated smoking area. If the designated smoking area is not properly maintained (for example, if cigarette butts are found on the ground), it can be eliminated at the discretion of management or other decision-making body.

    (For a policy that extends tobacco free to include all of the company property, substitute the following: No use of tobacco products is permitted within the facilities or on the property of ___________ at any time.)

2. No tobacco use in any company vehicle.

    There will be no use of any form of tobacco in __________ vehicles at any time.

    There will be no tobacco use in personal vehicles when transporting people on _____________ authorized business.

3. Breaks

    Supervisors will discuss the issue of taking breaks with their staff, both smokers and non-smokers. Together they will develop effective solutions that do not interfere with the productivity of the staff.

Procedure

    1. Employees will be informed of this policy through signs posted in _____________ facilities and vehicles, newsletters, inserts in pay envelopes, the policy manual, e-mail, and/or orientation and training provided by their supervisors.

    2. Visitors will be informed of this policy through signs, and it will be explained by their hosts.

    3. The ______________will help employees who want to quit tobacco by helping them access recommended cessation programs and materials.

    4. Any violations of this policy will be handled through the standard disciplinary procedure.

To learn more

The American Cancer Society’s free online Quit Tobacco and Smoking Tool Kit offers detailed guidance on how to initiate a workplace policy. It includes activities, promotion tools, current tobacco facts, email and newsletter articles, and many other useful tools to help your company move towards becoming a safer, healthier place to work.

National organizations and websites*

Along with the American Cancer Society, other sources of information and support include:

Office on Smoking and Health
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

Toll-free number: 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO)
Website: www.cdc.gov/tobacco

    Offers information on tobacco, smoking, and quitting. The main site at www.cdc.gov has health info on many other wellness and prevention topics.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

Toll-free number: 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO)
Website: www.cdc.gov/niosh

    Offers information on workplace safety topics and safety practices; can look into potential hazards in workplaces if asked by employers or employees

*Inclusion on this list does not imply endorsement by the American Cancer Society.

No matter who you are, we can help. Contact us anytime, day or night, for information and support. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Implementing a Tobacco-Free Campus Initiative in Your Workplace. Accessed at www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/hwi/toolkits/tobacco/index.htm on October 8, 2013.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Save Lives, Save Money: Make Your Business Smoke-Free. Atlanta, Ga: US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006. Accessed at www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/secondhand_smoke/guides/business/pdfs/save_lives_save_money.pdf on October 8, 2013.

US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Tobacco-free Campus Policy. 11/01/05. Accessed at www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/hwi/downloads/CDC_tobacco_policy.pdf on October 8, 2013.


Last Medical Review: 10/23/2013
Last Revised: 10/23/2013