Effects of Smoke-Free Workplaces

Published on November 30th, 2009 11:49
tobacco free workplaces

Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure is common especially in workplaces. For example in 1996, an estimated 130 million adult non-smokers in China were exposed to workplace ETS. But in the UK in 1999, more than 3 million non-smokers were permanently or frequently exposed to tobacco smoke at work. In France, where there are laws restricting smoking in public spaces, 40% of employees are still exposed to ETS.

ETS can act with chemicals and radiation in workplaces to produce an additive or multiplicative effect and increase significantly the risk of many occupational diseases. In some countries, employers have a legal obligation to protect the health of their employees.

But in 2004 in Ireland smoking was banned in working places too. Researchers declared that this ban had big effects, because the maternal smoking rates and preterm births declined too.

Dr. Zubair Kabir, of the Tobacco Free Research Institute in Dublin, Ireland, and his colleagues reported that compared with the previous year to the smoking ban, 12 percent fewer women reported smoking during pregnancy in the year after the ban. They observed 25 percent lower risk for preterm births in the year after the smoking ban compared with the year anterior to the ban.

Kabir and colleagues analyzed records at Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital to estimate if Ireland’s workplace smoking ban altered smoking during pregnancy. They investigated 7,593 births in 2003 and 7,648 births in 2005, and permitted for other maternal factors tied to birth risks such as the mother’s age, number of previous births, alcohol intake, blood pressure, and difficulties during pregnancy.

Researchers found that babies with the highest birth weights on average were born to former smokers. In comparison, babies with the lowest birth weights had mothers who smoked during pregnancy. This fresh finding demonstrated to smokers, especially pregnant women, that exposures to secondhand smoke during pregnancy may play a role in having babies with low birth weight.

Researchers concluded that only smoke-free workplaces can reduce employers’ legal responsibility, create safer working environments, improve workers’ health and improve collective image.

By Kevin Lawson, Staff Writer. Copyright © 2010 TobaccoPub. All rights reserved.

Related tags: smoking | smoke-free | smoking ban | non-smoker | tobacco smoke | smoker | secondhand smoke | tobacco research | tobacco free

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