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Benefits of Tobacco-Free Environments
Tobacco-free campuses protect employees and clients from secondhand smoke, especially those with chronic diseases such as asthma or emphysema. Tobacco-free campuses also help to create a healthier workforce since these rules encourage smokers to quit. Working toward policies that prohibit tobacco use in and around worksites should be a high priority for worksite wellness coordinators and committees.
The Oregon Indoor Clean Air Act [ORS 433.835 - 433.990] already requires most workplaces and public places to be smokefree indoors and within 10 feet of entries/exits, windows that open, and air intake vents, but the law does not cover smokeless tobacco products or workplace campuses beyond 10 feet.
Many organizations provide further protections for their employees and clients by creating entirely smokefree campuses and prohibiting the use of smokeless tobacco.
Learn the Facts: Secondhand Smoke is a First-rate Killer
- Secondhand smoke contains chemicals that are poisons, including formaldehyde, cyanide, carbon monoxide and arsenic. At least 43 of these poisons are known to cause cancer.
- According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
- In people who have never smoked in the U.S., secondhand smoke is responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths and tens of thousands of coronary heart disease deaths.
- In Oregon alone, tobacco use causes 22% of all deaths—over 6,000 people a year—while secondhand smoke causes an estimated 800 deaths annually.
Key Steps in a 100% Smokefree or Tobacco-free Worksite Policy
- Gain support from leadership. This is an essential step that may take some time.
- Form a workgroup to develop the policy language.
- Establish a timeline to introduce, adopt, communicate, and implement the policy.
- Provide management and staff trainings on systems, roles and responsibilities.
- Communicate the "why and how" of the policy through worksite publications and/or community media.
- Provide systematic assistance with cessation through employee benefits and/or patient or client support.
- Monitor and support implementation.
Resources to Assist Workplaces
A variety of resources are available to assist workplaces through this process.
Additional online resources with model policies, timelines, communication strategies and other implementation tips:
Additional Steps to Support Employees
As part of a comprehensive campaign, it is important to provide information and resources to employees to support tobacco-free lifestyle choices.
- Employees can call the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (English) or 1-855-DEJELO-YA (Spanish).
- All state of Oregon employees have access to a complete cessation program, including medication and counseling, through their health plans and Free & Clear, which is a telephone cessation support service provided through PEBB.
- Promote smokefree homes and cars in order to support employees’ quit attempts and help employees keep their families tobacco-free. Free campaign toolkits, including Smokefree Home Pledges, are available through the Environmental Protection Agency at www.epa.gov/smokefree.