Worksite-based Settings

Given that most adults spend many of their waking hours at work, worksites are seen as a potentially useful place to encourage employees to quit or never start using tobacco. Worksites may include interventions focused on the individual, the physical environment (e.g., restricted smoking areas) and/or changes in policies to eliminate tobacco use (e.g., insurance incentives for tobacco-free employees). Some programs and policies have been offered by management, while others have been developed jointly through labor/management negotiations. There are also interventions that have been developed to build support for tobacco-free employees both from fellow employees and family and friends.

In developing your intervention, it is important to consider the feasibility of engaging in these various strategies and to consider alternatives as appropriate. For example, many small businesses find it useful, and cost effective, to work with existing community programs to assist employees in quitting tobacco use off-site. It is also important that the opportunities created are flexible enough to meet the needs of a wide variety of employees. For example, you might choose to identify restricted smoking areas or not allow smoking on any of the premises.

These programs have been implemented in a wide variety of unionized and non-unionized workplace settings, including: manufacturing (oil refineries, electric, clothing, food, household goods), health care, bank or financial services, public transit, local, state or federal government, telecommunications, aerospace, education, social services and military worksites, among others.

Previous work in worksite-based settings has found:

  • Worksite settings have the potential to reach a large population of adults so tobacco education interventions are desirable. Information can be sent home with workers to address the family.
  • Since the majority of adults are employed, the worksite represents a large, accessible audience for tobacco cessation efforts.
  • The worksite has been endorsed as an excellent place to establish tobacco cessation education interventions because this setting allows an opportunity to conduct multiple and repeated interventions for a somewhat captive audience.
  • The workplace is a viable site for health promotion programs since it provides an opportunity to make environmental, structural, and policy changes that support educational messages (e.g., smoke-free workplace policy) and it provides the ability to provide social support for tobacco-free lifestyles.
  • Health education programs in the workplace can result in fewer overall days absent, reduced short-term disability days and lower health costs.
  • Certain workplaces are important locations to promote campaign messages regarding tobacco cessation since employees are at greater risk.
  • Humorous anti-smoking posters and large banners posted around worksites provide an opportunity to reach a large adult population of smokers.
  • At the workplace, the following factors contribute to the costs of smoking: absenteeism, cleaning costs, medical retirements, premature death and other liabilities.

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