Smoking in the Workplace
Employers concerned about their employees may be able to improve their health and help them be more productive by creating smoke-free workplaces. Many state and local governments now require workplaces to be smoke-free. Both smoking and non-smoking employees may be helped by such policies.
Here is a model policy employers can use to help them move toward smoke-free workplaces. You can learn more about timelines, variations, and implementation of smoke-free policies in the "Additional resources" section.
Benefits of a smoke-free workplace
For the employees
- A smoke-free environment helps create a safer, healthier workplace.
- Workers who are bothered by smoke will not be exposed to it at work.
- Smokers who want to quit may have more of a reason to do so.
- Smokers may appreciate a clear company policy about smoking at work.
- Managers are relieved when there is a clearly defined process for dealing with smoking in the workplace.
For the employer
- A smoke-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 smoking-related illnesses.
- Maintenance costs go down when 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 smoke
Here is a model of a policy employers can use to help maintain a smoke-free workplace for themselves and for their employees. It can be adapted as needed.
A model policy
Because we recognize the hazards caused by exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, it shall be the policy of ____________ to provide a smoke-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 ____________.
1. No smoking of tobacco products will be allowed within the facilities at any time.
The decision to provide or 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 smoke free to include all of the company property, substitute the following: No smoking of tobacco products is permitted within the facilities or on the property of ___________ at any time.)
2. No smoking in any company vehicle.
There will be no smoking in __________ vehicles at any time.
There will be no tobacco use in personal vehicles when transporting persons on _____________ authorized business.
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.
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 smoking by helping them access recommended smoking cessation programs and materials.
4. Any violations of this policy will be handled through the standard disciplinary procedure.
(This model policy is adapted from Making Your Workplace Smoke-free: A Decision Maker's Guide, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Cancer Society, and the Wellness Councils of America. The full guide is available online at: http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/secondhand_smoke/guides/workplace/)
National organizations and Web sites*
Along with the American Cancer Society, other sources of information and support include:
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
Office on Smoking and Health
Toll-free number: 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO)
Web site: www.cdc.gov/tobacco
Offers information on tobacco, smoking, and quitting. Details on setting up and implementing smoke free policies in your business can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/secondhand_smoke/guides/business/pdfs/. The main site at www.cdc.gov has health info on many other wellness and prevention topics.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Toll-free number: 1-800-232-4636
Web site: www.cdc.gov/niosh
Offers information by phone and Web on workplace safety topics, and can look into potential hazards in workplaces if asked by employers or employees
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.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Discomfort from environmental tobacco smoke among employees at worksites with minimal smoking restrictions -- United States, 1988. MMWR. 1992;41:351–354.
Hammond SK, Sorensen G, Youngstrom R, Ockene JK. Occupational exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. JAMA. 1995;274:956–960.
Siegel M, Husten C, Merritt RK, et al. Effects of separately ventilated smoking lounges on the health of smokers: Is this an appropriate public health policy? Tobacco Control. 1995;4:22–29.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Making Your Workplace Smokefree: A Decision Maker's Guide. Accessed at http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/secondhand_smoke/guides/workplace/ on October 18, 2010.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Save Lives, Save Money: Make Your Business Smoke-Free. Atlanta, Ga: U.S. 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 http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/secondhand_smoke/guides/business/pdfs/save_lives_save_money.pdf on October 18, 2010.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, Office on Smoking and Health, 1986. (DHHS Publication No. [CDC] 87-9398)
Last Revised: 11/03/2010