November 16, 2009

Smokers Worldwide Support Workplace Smoking Bans, Study Finds

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Michael Halpern
Michael Halpern

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.—The majority of smokers worldwide support smoking bans in the workplace, according to a new study by RTI International and Harris Interactive.

The study, published in the International Journal of Public Health online edition, surveyed more than 3,500 employees who smoke and more than 1,400 employers (both smokers and nonsmokers) in 14 counties about their attitudes toward workplace smoking and cessation.

The results showed that 74 percent of smoking employees and 87 percent of employers felt that the workplace should be smoke free.

The participating countries included South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, India, United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Turkey, and Brazil.

"Although there was widespread variation among countries, overall the results demonstrate global support for workplace smoking bans," said Michael Halpern, Ph.D., a senior fellow at RTI, and the paper's lead author. "This study shows support for additional programs and policies to increase those bans and assist employees with smoking cessation."

The greatest support for workplace smoking bans was in India (85 percent) and Japan (75 percent). In contrast, only one-third of employees in Germany (33 percent) and Poland (37 percent) agreed with a workplace smoking ban.

The study also found that overall employees estimated spending an average of one hour per day smoking at work, but most employees (almost 70 percent) did not believe that smoking had a negative financial impact on their employer. However, about half of employers interviewed did believe that smoking had a negative financial impact on their organization.

"Several previous studies indicate that despite the beliefs of smoking employees and some employers in our study, smoking does have a substantial negative impact on a business' finances," Halpern said. "More research needs to be done to quantify the economic impacts of workplace smoking and educate both employers and employees on those effects."

According to the World Health Organization almost one billion men and 250 million women worldwide smoke some form of tobacco.

The Global Workplace Smoking Survey was sponsored by Pfizer.