A comprehensive program for workplace health and safety and/or health promotion may include restrictions on smoking. It is crucial to keep in mind that exposure to smoking is just one of the many risks that many workers encounter on a daily basis. While it is generally agreed that ETS exposure should be addressed, this should be done as part of an overall occupational health program and should not compete for resources or draw attention away from other potential dangers.
What details are included in this document?
This article will go over the legal requirements, ventilation, and procedures to follow when implementing a workplace smoking policy, among other topics connected to smoking limits. Please refer to the OSH Answers document Environmental Tobacco Smoke: Basic Information and Health Impacts for more general information concerning environmental tobacco smoke, passive exposure to e-cigarette vapour, and potentially related health effects.
Are there any other grounds to forbid smoking in the workplace than health concerns?
Employers frequently incur increased costs as a result of smoking in the workplace. The Conference Board of Canada calculated that in 2012, each employee that smokes costs the firm $4,256 annually. Increased absenteeism, decreased output, unscheduled smoke breaks, upkeep of smoking locations, property damage, and health and fire insurance costs are all blamed for these costs. According to other studies, non-smoking workers find it harder to focus in environments with ETS. According to studies, smoke-free workplaces also result in higher output, higher morale, and fewer cleaning expenses. Many regulators and businesses have implemented smoking restrictions in the workplace as a result of these causes and related health issues. Some have adopted regulations that prohibit smoking in the workplace or only allow non-smokers to work in particular positions. Others provide initiatives aimed at helping staff members quit smoking.
Smoking hasn't been prohibited in the workplace for a very long time.
Smoking has traditionally been prohibited when handling combustible, explosive, or flammable goods. In these circumstances, cigarette use is prohibited not to protect individuals from the health effects of ETS but to save them from the clear risks of fire and explosion. In some instances, smoking has been outlawed as a precaution against toxic hand-to-mouth digestion. Food, drink, and cigarettes can all get contaminated by contact with unclean hands, gloves, or clothing, as well as from job exposure. However, since the early 1990s, legislation has expanded due to health concerns regarding exposure to ETS.
Which Canadian jurisdictions have laws governing ETS in the workplace?
There is a legal legislation or rule prohibiting smoking in the workplace in every Canadian jurisdiction. Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec all outlaw smoking in the workplace. The construction of a separately ventilated chamber at work is permitted in some areas. Since regulations differ from province to province, it is crucial to contact with local authorities. OSH Answers has a list of the federal government's occupational health and safety offices in Canada. There is also a list of laws requiring smoke-free workplaces and ETS rules. Note: A subscription is necessary to access the real legislation.
Which Canadian provinces have laws governing the use of e-cigarettes (vaping) at work?
E-cigarettes are treated similarly to tobacco in many jurisdictions. Except for the federal government, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon, every Canadian jurisdiction has laws governing the sale and use of e-cigarettes.
What are the rules generally speaking?
Some governments have outright bans on smoking and vaping within buildings, while others have only allowed it in designated rooms or locations. In some regions, smoking is forbidden in public structures (including provincial government offices), but not in all workplaces. When smoking is authorized in a particular room or area, those spaces must adhere to strict ventilation and use requirements. Smoking is frequently forbidden in any area that is regarded as a work space when smoking is prohibited in the workplace. A """"work space"""" may mean any indoor or other enclosed space in which employees perform the duties of their employment, and includes any adjacent corridor, lobby, stairwell, elevator, cafeteria, washroom or other common area frequented by such employees while they are at work. In some workplaces, this ban has been extended to include company vehicles as well. Public entertainment facilities (such as restaurants, bars and games rooms) and other establishments (such as long-term residential facilities including extended care facilities and prisons) present a unique situation. Debate has centered on two main concerns: on one hand these places are public spaces or they are considered a residence where smoking has traditionally been permitted, but on the other hand it is a workplace and the rights of the employees need to be considered. Again, provincial or municipal regulations should be consulted to determine what the law is for your area or situation.
What options are available when setting a workplace policy?
Smoking restriction policies range from minor measures to total bans. Initially some companies attempted to deal with the smoking problem by segregating smokers and nonsmokers. This approach requires smoking and nonsmoking workstations, office areas, lunch areas, and lounges. Although this approach is intended to satisfy both smokers and nonsmokers, it is not entirely effective. Tobacco smoke is not eliminated under this system because it is almost impossible to remove tobacco smoke from buildings by ventilation or other means such as electrostatic filters. Therefore, some ETS will drift over from the smoking to the nonsmoking areas. In addition, neither smokers nor nonsmokers are satisfied by this segregated arrangement. Nonsmokers continue to object to drifting tobacco smoke and smokers dislike being segregated from their colleagues. If smoking is not completely banned at your workplace by legislation, there are two options to consider: A """"smoke-free"""" policy that would not allow smoking inside any building or company vehicle. It may or may not permit smoking in designated outdoor locations. A policy that allows for separately ventilated areas.
What are the pros and cons of a 'smoke-free workplace' versus a 'separately ventilated room'?
Policy Pros Cons Smoke-free complies with all laws greatly reduces ETS exposure for all employees decreases maintenance costs easy to administer and enforce low cost requires smokers to modify habits inconvenience to employees who smoke if not properly managed, smokers may be disproportionately absent from work stations may incur some cost if outside shelters are constructed Separately Ventilated Area complies with some laws reduces non-smoking employees exposure allows employee to remain inside to smoke ventilation systems may not adequately protect from ETS construction of separate space and ventilation system may be necessary costs involved with above points
What is an example of a smoking area?
Designated areas may be available to employees who smoke. Requirements often include that the room be: clearly identified to the workforce by signs or other effective means provided with a separate, non-recirculating exhaust ventilation system, if indoors a safe outdoor location, or room structurally separated from other work or break areas equipped with ashtrays or non-combustible covered receptacles for the disposal of waste Except in an emergency, an employer must not require an employee to enter an indoor area where smoking is permitted. If outdoors, the area should not be by the entrances to the building where non-smokers have to pass by to enter the building. It should be a separate area, sheltered if possible, which is away from the building's air intake vents. Local weather conditions will play a role in determining what type of shelter is needed.
If indoors, what ventilation requirements should be considered?
Ventilation requirements often include requirements that the smoking area: Meet the requirements for a smoking area (ETS area) specified in Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 62.1 """"Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality"""" (2016 version) or other standard acceptable to the local authority. The standard addresses requirements for buildings that contain both an ETS area and ETS-free area. Be enclosed by walls, a floor and a ceiling. Other structural elements may include sealing ducts and pipes that enter into the room, applying weather stripping to doors, and using automatic door closing devices. Be designed in accordance with expected occupancy rates. Discharges air directly to the outdoors (air must not be recirculated within the building or mixed with the general dilution ventilation for the building). Maintains adequate air flows from non-smoking to smoking areas (smoking area should have a slight negative pressure to ensure airflow into the smoking area rather than back into the general workplace). Have the intake and exhaust openings positioned to prevent smoke movement into adjoining rooms and areas.
What are some limitations of using ventilation to 'clean' the air?
Increasing ventilation is often proposed as one way to control concentrations of ETS. The quality of the air in a building depends on the design and operation of the building's environmental control system. Typically systems are designed to maximize human comfort. However, cost and energy constraints must be considered and, therefore, the goal of maximal comfort is often compromised. Minimum required ventilation rates are usually set to limit the carbon dioxide concentration. Ventilation rates for smoking can be based on various factors such as odour noticed by visitors to a room, irritation experienced by nonsmoking occupants, haze (smokiness), or concentrations of smoke contaminants. Tobacco smoke odours are very difficult to control by ventilation and require high ventilation rates. Also, standard filtration systems in buildings do not remove carbon monoxide or any of the other gases present in tobacco smoke. Many researchers have concluded that attempts to overcome tobacco smoking contamination by ventilation are futile, since they require ventilation rates far in excess of what is economical. There is a growing consensus that, while some adjustments to workplace ventilation systems may reduce tobacco smoke pollution, the effectiveness of this approach is limited. In addition, if ETS is present, general ventilation requirements may not apply since human carcinogens or other harmful contaminants are suspected to be present. ETS falls into this category based on its association with lung cancer and other adverse health effects such as heart disease. Under these circumstances, other relevant standards or guidelines (e.g., occupational exposure limits) may supersede the ventilation rate procedure.
How should a smoking policy be introduced?
In many respects, ETS is like any other workplace air contaminant. It can be reduced or eliminated by controlling emission at the source and by instituting policies and procedures to ensure the safety of all employees. The key to a successful smoking program or policy is to ensure, through discussion, that it has support from the majority of staff and management. The transition to a smoke-free workplace can be implemented through specific steps. Ideally, all employees should be included in the planning process. Open discussions should take place on the kinds of policies that might work and how they should be enforced. As a rule, a strong policy needs to have the backing of all the groups which are covered by it. Employees should be kept informed of each step. If an organization has committed itself to a smoke-free work environment, it should be prepared to enforce its smoking ban unconditionally. For example, allowing supervisory personnel to smoke because they may work in enclosed offices promotes resentment among smokers who are not allowed to smoke in open areas.
Should a company offer smoking cessation program?
To help those smoking employees who want to stop smoking, a number of companies sponsor or subsidize smoking cessation programs. Complete health promotion programs have also been implemented including fitness and nutritional counselling, exercise classes, and organized sports activities. There are three basic approaches for smoking cessation supports in the workplace. The chart below compares the pros and cons of each approach. To achieve the highest success, all three approaches should be introduced with activities incorporated into a broader wellness initiative. Approach ProsCons Comprehensive: Offering programs and activities at the workplace More accessible. More flexible (e.g., can be offered at various times to accommodate shift and other workers). Sends a strong message of commitment and support from employer. Demonstrates employer's leadership. May provide additional motivation. Can be offered to spouses and family members. Easy to target hard-to-reach groups. Supports ex-smokers. Can provide follow-up and support. Can integrate cessation supports into existing workplace wellness initiatives. Can build on existing tobacco control policies. Costs, in terms of financial and human resources. Group programs may not suit all employees. Extensive training may be required. Does not allow for anonymity. May not accommodate different levels of addiction and readiness to quit. There may be more and broader expertise and resources in the community. Focussing on smokers in the workplace may stigmatize them and decrease success rates. Facilitated: Working with outside agencies to deliver programs and activities off-site, and providing self-help materials Offers anonymity. Makes use of external expertise, which means not """"re-inventing the wheel"""" and ensures a level of expertise that may not exist within a workplace. Employees can select the options that work best for them. Some communities have a variety of options to choose from and many resources (especially larger centres). Sends a message of commitment and support from employer. Less accessible. May be high cost in terms of human resources at the outset. Less flexible. Less easy to tailor to specific workplaces. Costs. Finding acceptable options may be difficult. Education and Information:Providing employees with information including self-help materials Low cost. Better than no support at all if this is all that can be done. All workplaces can take this approach. Offers anonymity. Good option for highly motivated smokers. The quit rates are lower for self-help. Education and information is not enough to change behaviour. Lacks ongoing support. Shows a lower level of support from employer. Employees may not feel they are able to quit successfully on their own and this can be a barrier to action. Follow-up is not possible. From: Health Canada, 2008. Smoking Cessation in the Workplace: A Guide to Helping Your Employees Quit Smoking. Common elements of smoking cessation programs include: Self-help Professional medical advice Individual counselling Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)* Incentives including contests and special events* Since 2011, e-cigarettes are one of the most widely used forms of non-tobacco nicotine. Their use as an aid to smoking cessation is controversial. E-cigarettes are marketed as consumer products unlike other NRT products that are licensed as medicines. E-solutions contain unregulated ingredients. Studies have determined that the fluid and vapour contain harmful substances that are also found in traditional tobacco cigarettes but at lower concentrations. Because the concentrations are lower, some organizations consider e-cigarettes important for tobacco harm reduction so promote their use along with NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products. However, there are no studies of long-term effects from e-cigarette usage.
What is a sample workplace smoke-free policy*?
Policy:Due to the health concerns arising from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, ABC Company Inc. has instituted this policy to provide a smoke-free environment for all employees and visitors.
Definitions: This policy covers the smoking of any tobacco product, the use of smokeless (or spit) tobacco and electronic smoking devices. Smoking will not be allowed within the building at any time. Smoking will be allowed in designated smoking areas outside the building. All materials used for smoking, including cigarette butts and matches, will be extinguished and disposed of in appropriate containers as provided. Supervisors will ensure periodic cleanups of the designated smoking area. There will be no smoking in company vehicles at any time. Supervisors will discuss the issue of smoking breaks with their staff. Together they will develop an effective solution that will not interfere with the productivity of the staff but allow for the wishes of the employee to be met. Procedure: Employees will be informed of this policy through signs posted in buildings and vehicles, the policy manual, and will receive orientation and training from their supervisors. Visitors will be informed of this policy through signs and it will be explained by their host. The company will assist employees who wish to quit smoking by facilitating access to recommended smoking cessation programs and materials. Any violations of this policy will be handled through standard disciplinary procedures. * Adapted from: Making Your Workplace Smokefree: A Decision Maker's Guide by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."""