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Published: August, 2020; Vol 17, Num 3

 

Developing and Implementing Tobacco-Free Worksite Policies

Tobacco use can result in serious diseases and health problems, including cancer, heart disease, lung disease, reproductive complications and vision problems. While tobacco use continues to decline over time, it remains highest in the construction industry, where 34 percent of construction workers use tobacco products compared to 22 percent of all working adults. Helping people who use tobacco to quit, and preventing people who don’t smoke from starting to smoke, can improve health and quality of life for many Laborers and, as a result, their families.

A tobacco-free environment helps create a safe and healthy workplace. A tobacco-free worksite can reduce the hazards associated with using tobacco products and exposure to their byproducts, which are known to cause serious lung disease, heart disease and cancer. From an employer’s perspective, maintaining a tobacco-free environment sends a message that you care about the health of your employees and the health of the community in which you work.

Creating a tobacco-free environment starts with the development and implementation of tobacco-free worksite policies. To assist LIUNA signatory contractors in implementing such a program, the Fund recently developed a new publication, LHSFNA Guide to the Development and Implementation of a Tobacco-Free Worksite Policy.

Recognizing that LIUNA members and signatory contractors work in a wide range of settings and environments, this guide serves as a comprehensive tool that can be utilized completely or in parts depending on your specific needs. Here’s a brief description of the topics covered:

  • Synergistic and Additive Effects: Many Laborers are exposed to hazardous materials and substances on the worksite that can make the consequences of smoking much worse.
  • Health Effects of Tobacco Use and Exposure: Information about the health effects of different types of tobacco products can be helpful when determining which tobacco products, if any, will be permitted on site.
  • Benefits of a Tobacco-Free Worksite Policy: In addition to health benefits for workers, employers will enjoy a cleaner facility and decreased maintenance costs. A clearly defined policy also removes any confusion about how to deal with tobacco in the workplace.
  • Collective Bargaining: Tobacco-free worksite policies may be subject to collective bargaining because it affects employment relations. In states with indoor air legislation, employers can ban smoking indoors, but this ban does not extend to outdoor workplaces.
  • Choosing a Tobacco-Free Worksite Policy: This section outlines a range of policy options and questions to help employers determine which policy is best for their site.
  • Components of a Policy: A well-written policy addresses the products covered, parameters and boundaries, effective date and audience. Sample tobacco-free worksite policy language is provided.
  • Policy Implementation: How a policy is implemented, including its timeline and how it’s communicated, can affect its success onsite.

To order the LHSFNA Guide to the Development and Implementation of a Tobacco-Free Worksite Policy and the Fund’s other tobacco-cessation publications, visit www.lhsfna.org and click on Publications.

[Emily Smith is the Fund’s Health Promotion Manager.]