Most smokers worldwide support workplace bans: poll

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Even smokers support bans to prohibit lighting up in the workplace, according to a new survey.

A man holds a cigarette in Tokyo August 3, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

The international poll of nearly 5,000 people by research institute RTI International and Harris Interactive showed that nearly three-quarters of workers who smoke and 87 percent of employers support a smoke-free work environment.

“Although there was widespread variations among countries, overall the results demonstrate global support for workplace smoking bans,” said Michael Halpern, of RIT who is one of the authors of the report.

“This study shows support for additional programs and policies to increase those bans and assist employees with smoking cessation,” he added in a statement.

The strongest support for smoking bans was in India where 85 percent of people voted for smoke-free workplaces, followed by Japan with 75 percent. But only one-third of Germans and 27 percent of Poles thought bans should be in place.

The researchers also found that smokers estimated that they spent about one hour a day puffing on cigarettes, although the majority of people polled did not think the habit had a negative financial impact on the company.

“Several previous studies indicate that despite the beliefs of smoking employees and some employers in our study, smoking does have a substantial negative impact on a business’s finance,” Halpern added.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been a champion of a global ban on smoking at work. Many countries, including France, Spain, Ireland and Portugal have introduced bans to prevent workplace smoking.

Smoking is a leading cause of preventable death. The WHO says some 200,000 workers die each year due to exposure to smoke at work, while around 700 million children, around half the world’s total, breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke, particularly in the home.

According to the WHO almost one billion men and 250 women worldwide smoke some form of tobacco.

South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, India, Britain, Italy, Sweden, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Turkey and Brazil participated in the poll which involved 3,500 workers, smokers and non-smokers, and more than 1,400 employers in the 14 countries.