Advantages and Disadvantages of No Smoking in Working Places

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Discuss advantages and disadvantages of having smoke free workplaces including the perspective of both employers and employees and their rights and obligations.

The speedy spread of tobacco products and users all over the world is causing significant concern that has become a worldwide challenge. The leaders of different countries are now expressing their concern about the rapidly increasing number of smoking-related deaths. Recent reports reveal that approximately 4.9 million deaths worldwide can be attributed to smoking. This number is expected to rise to a notable 10 million deaths by 2030, if strong policies on tobacco control are not implemented worldwide. Tobacco -smoking is currently considered the second major cause of death. Deaths caused by smoking alone are not the only ones causing concern. Based on statistics from the late 1990’s, more than 3,000 of smoking-related U.S. deaths in the US are actually caused by secondhand smoking. One can only imagine how much larger those numbers must have grown over the past few years.

Some countries, however, are pursuing a milder course of action; they are choosing to limit the ban to public areas and workplaces. In addition, these bans are only applicable to tobacco use; selling tobacco products is still completely legal. As countries begin to declare war against tobacco, anti-smoking advocates and health organizations salute their efforts. The costs of employee tobacco use to the employer are significant. Direct costs to the employer include healthcare costs associated with tobacco use. Indirect costs include lost productivity, absenteeism and recruitment and retraining costs resulting from death and disability related to tobacco use. Tobacco-free workplaces can enhance productivity in two ways: by reducing the effects of secondhand smoke on nonsmokers and by reducing excess smoking-related absenteeism among smokers who are motivated to quit as a result of the tobacco-free policy. Especially for small businesses that have employees who handle a variety of tasks, productivity can be greatly increased by reduced absenteeism. Workplace smoking cessation programs can increase smoking cessation rates, improve employee health, reduce exposure to second-hand smoke, and decrease costs.

A smoker who quits could save employers an estimated $960 in excess illness costs each year. Persons who quit smoking before age 65 are estimated to save from 40 percent to 67 percent of the lifetime excess medical costs of persons who continue to smoke. Helping smokers quit certainly saves the employer money and increases productivity," said Sharon Garrison of the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi. "Studies show that tobacco use causes $1.34 billion in lost productivity in Mississippi each year. Smokers generally miss about twice as many days of work due to illness as nonsmokers do each year.

There has been increased attention on the health and economic impact of smoking in the workplace as well as opportunities for employers to facilitate smoking cessation. Given the amount of time most adults spend in a workplace environment, workplace cessation interventions can affect substantial numbers of smokers. Provision of resources and social support for smoking cessation in the workplace has been associated with successful cessation.

✓ In addition to helping employees quit, workplace smoking cessation programs can reduce daily cigarette consumption; improve working relationships and morale; and reduce the risk of smoking-related illness.

✓ Workplace smoking cessation programs also decreases exposure of non-smokers to second-hand smoke, which can have serious health and economic consequences.

✓ There have been many evaluations and models demonstrating the health and economic benefit of worksite smoking cessation programs. These evaluations generally find that workplace smoking cessation programs can produce net economic savings in addition to increasing...
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