What better time than during the American Cancer Society’s annual Great American Smokeout, to highlight the benefit of comprehensive smoke-free workplaces on the health of workers. Furnishing a smoke-free work environment has been shown to both reduce exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) among non-smokers, and also to decrease smoking among employees. In Massachusetts, recent surveillance findings suggest that one approach to reaching that goal – comprehensive state laws mandating smoke-free workplaces – had a measurable positive impact.
The U.S. Surgeon General reports that there is no safe level of exposure to ETS, also known as secondhand smoke (USDHHS 2006). Workers can be exposed to ETS in their workplaces if co-workers or members of the public are permitted to smoke. ETS causes lung cancer and heart disease, and is also linked to respiratory diseases. Not only does ETS worsen asthma but it also increases the likelihood of developing asthma.
In 2004, Massachusetts became the third state behind Delaware and New York to pass a comprehensive law, banning smoking in bars, restaurants and non-hospitality workplaces. The Massachusetts Smoke-Free Workplace Law (M.G.L. Ch. 270, § 22) requires all enclosed workplaces with one or more employees to be smoke-free.
We recently presented findings from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System demonstrating that...