Tobacco products are legal and lethal, and they have numerous adverse impacts in the workplace. Besides being causes of increased healthcare costs and disability from the major tobacco-caused illnesses, tobacco products are also associated with greater absenteeism, decrements in job performance, and increased risk of injury. Tobacco exacts a disproportionate toll on individuals employed in blue-collar jobs who experience greater exposure to workplace toxins that can increase their risk of adverse effects from tobacco smoking. Secondhand tobacco smoke is a major air pollution problem. Persons employed in the hospitality industry and working class occupations are least protected by smoke-free workplace policies.
This book provides an overview of recent advances that may help to reduce occupation-based inequities in tobacco harm, including a social contextual intervention model that integrates smoking cessation and occupational health and safety, and a new national effort to link labor unions and tobacco control organizations around their shared interest in reducing tobacco’s threat to workers’ health. The implications of these efforts for future research and action are highlighted. Combining sound workplace policies and tobacco dependence treatment with organized labor involvement in tobacco control provides synergies to reduce tobacco use in the workforce. These activities benefit workers and their families, employers, and society at large.