Many workers and their employers do not fully understand that tobacco use in their workplaces can increase — sometimes profoundly — the likelihood and/or the severity of occupational disease and injury caused by other hazards present. This can occur in various ways. A toxic industrial chemical present in the workplace can also be present in tobacco products and/or tobacco smoke, so workers who smoke or are exposed to second-hand smoke (SHS) are more highly exposed and placed at greater risk of the occupational disease associated with those chemicals.
For the past half century, public health efforts to prevent disease caused by tobacco use have been underway, but more still needs to be done to achieve a society free of tobacco-related death and disease. Marking 50 years since the first Surgeon General’s Report on the health consequences of smoking, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has released new scientific information about the occupational hazards of smoking in a bulletin entitled Promoting Health and Preventing Disease and Injury through Workplace Tobacco Policies.
Issues addressed in the bulletin include:
- Tobacco use among workers.
- Occupational health and safety concerns relating to tobacco use by workers.
- Existing occupational safety and health regulations and recommendations prohibiting or limiting tobacco use in the workplace.
- Hazards of worker exposure to SHS in the workplace.
- Interventions aimed at eliminating or reducing these hazards.