NIOSH: Integrated Approach Can Enhance Workplace Tobacco Prevention, Control
Incorporating concepts from NIOSH’s Total Worker Health (TWH) Program may improve the success of workplace tobacco prevention and control initiatives, the agency says in a “Workplace Solutions” document published in August. TWH is a NIOSH initiative that integrates occupational health and safety protection with workplace programs and practices that advance workers’ overall safety, health, and well-being. NIOSH says that worksite health promotion programs intended to help workers stop or reduce tobacco use have “traditionally focused on individual factors and not taken work-related exposures and hazards into account.” The TWH approach recommends accounting for factors from all aspects of workers’ lives. Factors such as job stress, workers’ time constraints, and environmental contamination can all lessen the effectiveness of these programs. NIOSH recommends that employers use TWH concepts to enhance workplace tobacco control initiatives by eliminating or reducing exposure to harmful substances in the workplace, including secondhand smoke, by applying the hierarchy of controls. The agency urges employers to adopt a tobacco-free workplace and worksite-wide tobacco-free and smoke-free policies, and encourage worker participation in developing a comprehensive model for tobacco control initiatives. NIOSH also recommends involving workers in all stages of problem identification and tobacco control program design and including workers’ families in the support network for tobacco control programs. The Workplace Solutions document highlights the importance of identifying workers’ concerns regarding their health risks and educating management on ways to reduce workers’ job stress. The new document, which is available on NIOSH’s website, also provides information on workplace tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure, and general recommendations for workplace tobacco control and prevention.