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Encouraging and supporting smoking cessation in the workforce
  1. Judith J Prochaska,
  2. Cati G Brown-Johnson
  1. Department of Medicine, Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Judith J Prochaska, Stanford University, Medical School Office Building, X316, 1265 Welch Road, Stanford, CA 94305-5411, USA; JPro{at}

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Historically, smoking was ingrained in the workday. Cigarette supplies were kept filled and ashtrays emptied. Camel's ‘Calms your nerves’ campaign from the 1930s featured employees—such as reporters, secretaries, pilots—reaching for a cigarette (figure 1). In that high-pressure age, ‘smokes’ were touted as both sedative and stimulant, a cure for the stress of striving for success.

Figure 1

Tobacco industry advertising promoting cigarette use in the work setting. Source:

In stark contrast to industry marketing, smoking is not good for business. Tobacco use increases unproductive time, absenteeism and healthcare costs.1 ,2 Further, identification of the harms of secondhand smoke (SHS) has changed workplace acceptance of tobacco. Lead, mercury, formaldehyde and arsenic are just a few of more than 5000 hazardous chemicals in SHS,3 and the US Surgeon General’s 2006 Report on Secondhand Smoke concludes that 100% smoke-free workplace policies are the only ‘effective way to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace’.4 Domestic airlines enacted the first US industry-wide smoking ban in 1988, followed by hospitals 4 years later. In 1990, the first municipal workplace clean air policy banning smoking was established in Sacramento County, California. Americans’ for Nonsmokers Rights (ANR) reports that as of January 2014, smoking bans in all non-hospitality workplaces cover 65% of the US population enacted in hundreds of communities, 29 states and Washington DC.

Globally, the WHO recommends enacting legislation requiring all indoor workplaces be 100% smoke-free to protect the health of all workers. Currently, 54 nations have adopted national indoor workplace smoking bans in non-hospitality workplaces, and comprehensive smoke-free laws doubled from 2008 to 2010, yet still 89% of the world population remains …

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  • Contributors JJP led the scope and writing of this commentary, and CGB-J contributed to sourcing information and manuscript revisions.

  • Funding This editorial was supported by a grant from the State of California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (21BT-0018).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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