A new report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that all workplaces become tobacco-free and that employers make tobacco cessation programs available to workers.
These latest recommendations, which also encompass the use of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS)—or e-cigarettes—are aimed at protecting workers from the occupational hazards of tobacco and the effects of secondhand exposure to tobacco smoke and emissions from e-cigarettes.
NIOSH’s recommendations, which were issued in Current Intelligence Bulletin 67: Promoting Health and Preventing Disease and Injury Through Workplace Tobacco Policies build upon previous recommendations regarding tobacco use in the workplace and incorporate public review and comments on an earlier draft document. The report is aimed at preventing occupational injury and illness related to tobacco use, while also improving the general health and well-being of workers.
NIOSH also recommends that employers incorporate tobacco cessation support programs into a more comprehensive approach that addresses the overall safety, health and well-being of workers.
NIOSH recommends that employers take the following actions related to employee tobacco use:
- At a minimum, establish and maintain smoke-free workplaces that protect those in workplaces from involuntary, secondhand exposures to tobacco smoke and airborne emissions from e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems. Ideally, smoke-free workplaces should be established in concert with tobacco cessation support programs. Smoke-free zones should encompass all indoor areas without exceptions (i.e., no indoor smoking areas of any kind, even if separately enclosed and/or ventilated); all areas immediately outside building entrances and air intakes; and all work vehicles. Additionally, ashtrays should be removed from these areas.
- Optimally, establish and maintain entirely tobacco-free workplaces, allowing no use of any tobacco products across the entire workplace campus.
- Comply with current OSHA and MSHA regulations that prohibit or limit smoking, smoking materials, and/or use of other tobacco products in work areas characterized by the presence of explosive or highly flammable materials or potential exposure to toxic materials. To the extent feasible, follow all similar NIOSH recommendations.
- Provide information on tobacco-related health risks and on benefits of quitting to all employees and other workers at the worksite (e.g., contractors and volunteers).
- Provide information on employer-provided and publicly available tobacco cessation services to all employees and other workers at the worksite.
- Offer and promote comprehensive tobacco cessation support to all tobacco-using workers and, if feasible, to their dependents. Provide employer-sponsored cessation programs at no cost or subsidize cessation programs for lower-wage workers to enhance the likelihood of their participation.
- Develop, implement and modify tobacco-related policies, interventions and controls in a stepwise and participatory manner. Get input from employees, labor representatives, line management, occupational safety/health and wellness staff and human resources professionals.
- Make sure that any differential employment benefits policies that are based on tobacco use or participation in tobacco cessation programs are designed with a primary intent to improve worker health and comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
- All workers, including workers who use tobacco and non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke at their workplace, should know the occupational safety and health risks associated with their work, including those that can be made worse by personal tobacco use, and how to limit those risks.