Smokers whose workplaces allow smoking light up five more cigarettes a day than smokers whose workplaces ban it, according to a study conducted by U of T’s Ontario Tobacco Research Unit.
“A lot of people assume smokers in smoke-free workplaces compensate for being without cigarettes while at work by smoking more at lunch, during breaks or after work, but overall they don’t. People are more likely to cut down or to give up cigarettes,” says Dr. Thomas Stephens, lead author of the study. Workplaces that allow smoking are typically blue-collar or trade organizations and small enterprises.
Twenty-four per cent of employed adult Canadians consume an average of 17 cigarettes daily, according to the study. In workplaces where smoking is banned, only 18 per cent of workers smoke daily, and their intake drops to 15 cigarettes. At jobs where there are no restrictions, 40 per cent of employees are daily smokers and average 20 cigarettes daily.
“Usually, the reason given for banning smoking in the workplace is to benefit non-smokers and this is a valid and important reason,” says Dr. Stephens. “What this study shows is that the bans also have health benefits for smokers themselves.” He adds that this is consistent with research in the United States and Australia.
In Canada, two provinces (Manitoba and New Brunswick) and two territories (Northwest Territories and Nunavut) have introduced legislation banning smoking in all indoor enclosed workplaces. In Ontario, smoking in the workplace is now restricted to a lesser extent, but the provincial government has introduced legislation to ban smoking in all workplaces and public places..