Smoke from tobacco is considered a hazard at the workplace because of the massive risk it causes to human health. Employers who take actions to implement smoke-free policies at the workplace are less exposed to litigation by employees regarding various health issues.
Knowing and understanding the serious health risks of using tobacco may help and motivate you to quit. Using tobacco in your everyday life over a long duration of time might increase your risk of various health problems.
Few of the serious health risk of using tobacco ones are listed below:
- Problems in the heart and blood vessel
- Blood clots and stroke due to weakening walls of the blood vessels in the brain
- Blood clots appearing in the legs, which eventually may travel to the lungs
- Coronary artery disease, including heart attack and angina
- Temporarily increase in the blood pressure after smoking
- Reduced supply of blood to the legs
- Problems with erections due to decreased blood flow in the penis
Other health risks or problems of using tobacco:
- Cancer (more likely to happen in the mouth, lungs, larynx, sinuses and nose, throat, esophagus, bladder, stomach, pancreas, kidney, cervix, rectum and colon)
- Poor and delayed healing of wound after surgery
- Lung problems, such as asthma that is difficult to control
- Issues during pregnancy, like, babies born with low birth weight, early labour, cleft lip
- Reduced ability to smell and taste
- Damage to sperm, which may result in infertility
- Sight loss due to a higher risk of muscular degeneration
- Gum and tooth diseases
- Wrinkling of the skin
Along with the various health issues, using tobacco can also cause productivity loss in the workplace.
- Smokers Take More Days Off Work
- Smokers take more breaks while working
- Smokers have more health issues as compare to non-smokers
- They have difficulty in maintaining relationships with other team members
Realistically, recognizing a smoke-free policy at the workplace presents a lot of benefits for both the employees and the employer.
Benefits of a Smoke-Free Workplace
- Helps build a safe and healthy workplace
- Reduces the costs of health care
- Decreases maintenance cost when matches and cigarette butts are eliminated
- Decreases coverage for health, disability, and life
- Reduces chances of accidental fire
- Complies with the rules set by the local legislation
- Develops corporate image
- Can be certain to work in a healthy and safe environment
- Higher productivity at work due to reduced distraction from secondhand smoke
- Motivates fellow employees to finally quit smoking
- Reduced sick days
- Promotes stability in the company
Strategies to curb workplace tobacco use
Tobacco-free workplace creates a healthier and safer work environment which, in turn, decreases the risk of adverse health complications. The foremost purposes of workplace tobacco cessation programs are to support and motivate employees to quit smoking as well as decrease second-hand smoke exposure to other employees.
To protect employees from vulnerability to second-hand smoke as well as emissions from electronic nicotine devices and e-cigarettes smoke-free zones should be marked. This would suggest installing “Tobacco-Free Area” or “No Smoking” signs on strategic locations, even on walkways, and entrances. Smoking E-cigarette should also be restricted in the workplace, given the increasing body of evidence proposing its low level of safety.
Comply with the available local, state and federal regulations which restrict smoking, smoking materials, as well as usage of tobacco products in the sections of the workplace where there are high-risk occupational hazards like highly inflammable or explosive substances.
Educate employees on health risk that are related to tobacco as well as make them understand the benefits of the smoke-cessation program. This can be done with the help of technology, by presenting web-based cessation initiatives or mobile device messaging methods.
A smoke-free workplace isn’t accomplished by merely writing a policy paper. The employees must understand that it is something that they require to adhere to. The organization must educate employees regarding the effects of smoking to achieve the following:
• The employees obtain detailed information about the possible risks of smoking
• The employees learn how tobacco use can negatively influence the workplace
• The employees must understand how smoking cigarette can put a negative impact on their job performance.
• Hand out leaflets to employees informing the advantages of reducing or quitting smoking.
• “No Smoking” signs at various places in the office could be effective as these signs work as a constant reminder for not smoking in different parts of the workplace.
Tobacco Cessation Programs
Offer comprehensive tobacco cessation programs as well as support systems for employees and their dependents who consume tobacco in any form. Make active tobacco-cessation interventions and policies that promote employee participation. As employees get involved in any program in a step-wise manner and at levels corresponding to their progress, as cigarette cessation in itself is a really gradual process.
Educate employees about occupational safety risks of smoking cigarette and build strategies to check those risks. Offer incentives to employees who participate in the tobacco-cessation program. This can increase the number of employees who put efforts at quitting and those who eventually succeed in quitting.
Efficient smoke-cessation programs not only enhance engagement and productivity but they also improve the quality of life and health of all the employees.