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Smoke-Free Works For All of Us - Smoke-Free Workplaces

The goal of the National Non-Smoking Week of 1999 Campaign: to increase the public's awareness on smoking in the workplace, with the theme: SMOKE-FREE WORKS FOR ALL OF US - SMOKE-FREE WORKPLACES.

The Council for Tobacco-Free Ontario (CTFO)'s NNSW campaign is in its second of three phases, working towards the Year 2000. The week was founded in 1977, and is held annually during the third week in January. CTFO is the Resource Centre that prepares information for campaigns for its 54 local councils on smoking and health, and public health units across Ontario.

NNSW is a national public education campaign with the objectives of:

* educating Canadians about the dangers associated with tobacco use;

* preventing people from becoming addicted;

* helping smokers quit;

* ensuring a smoke-free environment for non-smokers; and

* assisting in the attainment of a smoke-free society in Canada.

If you would like to become more involved with tobacco use prevention activities in your community, please contact the CTFO office at (416) 962-2424 or 1-800-316-CTFO, and the staff will be pleased to connect you with the nearest local council.

Workplaces are where many people spend a great deal of time, and people need to understand why this issue is important to them. The campaign is designed to offer local councils on smoking and health a menu of resources, activities and information on the issues of Smoking in the Workplace. This is not only a week-long campaign, it is one that lasts for years. Note the wide variety of activities happening across the province in local groups committed to action on tobacco issues. The Ontario Tobacco Strategy and the NNSW depends upon people to make it happen - and the results are showing us that it works!

Awareness about smoking in the workplace continues to grow, and gradually new evidence is emerging about the true costs to employers and employees. Two fact sheets have been produced, and are highlighted in the sections below.

- Alwyn Robertson, CTFO



Canadian data on workplace costs is scarce. The Conference Board of Canada has developed conservative estimates of smoking costs, but there are many variables to be considered on an individual site basis, and the number of employees who smoke.

In 1995 Canadian dollars, the annual cost per smoking employee was estimated to be $2,565 (costs will vary) [- see footnote 1 in References at bottom of message]

* increased absenteeism - $230

* decreased productivity - $2,175

* increased life insurance premiums - $75

* constructing and maintenance of smoking areas - $85

In 1996 Canadian dollars, the direct/indirect annual costs for male smokers was $12.7 billion and $3.2 billion for females, working out to a lifetime cost per smoker of $19,700 for males and $14,638 for females. (footnote 2)

Another $13.6 billion is due to lost productivity through sick days and early death. The average number of sick days/year taken by current or former smokers is two more than employees who have never smoked. (footnote 3)


Second-hand smoke is one of the most widespread and harmful indoor air pollutants. In addition to breathing second-hand smoke when people smoke, harmful chemicals such as arsenic, benzene, lead, phenol, and hydrogen cyanide stick around long after smoking ends because they are absorbed by drapes, linens, furniture, and clothes. They are then re-emitted back into the air you breathe. (footnote 4)

Second-hand smoke is one of the easiest indoor air pollutants to control. By removing the source (e.g., cigarettes, cigars, pipes) you eliminate the problem. (footnote 5)

Air cleaners have limited effectiveness; high efficiency air cleaners can remove a great deal of the particles in second-hand smoke, but not the dangerous gases. (footnote 6)

A firm no-smoking policy is the best way to protect the health of all employees. If that is not currently feasible, smoking should be allowed only in well-ventilated area reserved exclusively for that purpose, where no nonsmoker is required to enter or pass through. (footnote 7)


The Tobacco Control Act (1994) prohibits smoking in various settings, including: retail establishments (where goods or services are offered for sale to the public), financial institutions, transit shelters, etc. (footnote 9)

The Act gives local municipalities the power to prohibit or restrict smoking in public places and the workplace. Through by-laws, people may be encouraged to stop smoking or reduce their consumption. (footnote 10)

For information on local by-laws, contact your local public health unit or city clerk.


Ontario's 1990 Smoking in the Workplace Act (SWA) applies to all workplaces under provincial jurisdiction. Employers may designate a smoking area in the workplace. That smoking area cannot exceed 25% of the enclosed work space. The act is enforced by the Ministry of Labour inspectors appointed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It is an offense for an employer to take a reprisal action against an employee who has lodged a complaint under this Act.

The SWA does not specify that designated smoking areas should be separately enclosed and ventilated. Therefore, workers can be exposed to second-hand smoke, which is a serious health hazard. For more information on the health effects, please refer to the fact sheet from the National Clearinghouse on Tobacco &Health.

Options For Revising The SWA

Ideally, all workplaces in Ontario should be designated as smoke-free. This would require:

1. removing the option of designating a smoking area; and

2. removing the exemption for the hospitality industry.

Alternatively, the SWA should be revised in at least two important ways:

1. requiring designated smoking areas to be enclosed and separately ventilated, and at an air pressure lower than the surrounding space. Quebec, the home base of Canada's cigarette industry, has already done this; and

2. requiring comparable protection for all employees no matter where they work.

For more information on the SWA, contact the Smoking and Health Action Foundation at (416) 928-2900 or local Ministry of Labour office.


The following are some of the suggestions [by CFTO] to assist you in preparing for WEEDLESS WEDNESDAY - January 20th, 1999.

* Ask employees if they are considering being smoke-free for the day in support of healthier environments for all. Offer to assist however you can.

* Put information up on all bulletin boards about why the company is observing WEEDLESS WEDNESDAY (e.g.Ontario's Smoking in the Workplace Act and the Smoke-Free Workplaces Fact Sheet). [Information can be found in # 88 -1 message]

* Give employees who don't smoke the opportunity to be involved by offering support to their co-workers who are giving up smoking for the day. Give out a copy of the Buddy Support Tip Sheet to help them prepare. (see Tips below)

* At coffee break, have healthy snacks of fruit and vegetables available and juice along with your usual refreshments.

*Offer incentives for employees who give it a try (e.g. crossword puzzles or quizzes regarding tobacco facts and offer tee-shirts, coffee mugs, hard candies, gum, vouchers for soup and salad lunches etc. or something fun from the dollar store.)

If employees decide not to quit for the day, you have still raised awareness regarding the effects of secondhand smoke and modeled a more healthful supportive environment for everyone.


The tip sheet was produced by COMMIT to a Healthier Brant. It includes 8 helpful ideas, suggestions, and information on how to support friends and co-workers who want to try being smoke-free for the day on WEEDLESS WEDNESDAY, January 20, 1999. If your worksite is planning a smoke-free day here is how you can be a buddy :

1) Ask: Have they given any thought to quitting on WEEDLESS WEDNESDAY?

2) Encourage your friend(s) to think about quitting for the day Ask how you can help

3) Consider giving up something yourself - coffee or dessert for the day.

4) Keep a supply of gum, mints and toothpicks on hand to share.

5) Go for a brisk walk together after lunch for the balance of your break.

6) Gather tips for coping with stress and share them with your friend.

7) If they slip and have a puff, or a cigarette or two - don't use put-downs or guilt trips. Don't tell them what to do. Smile - stay positive.

8) Some smokers experience physical withdrawal symptoms - common effects can include:

headaches, inability to concentrate, dizziness, nervousness or grouchiness. It is important for you to know that these feelings are real, remind your friend(s) that such symptoms really are signs of recovery. If they continue to remain smoke-free the symptoms won't last.

Good luck, and remember, praise your friends and co-workers for giving it a try! "I'll get by with a little help from my friends" Ringo Starr

Most of the above materials (except the information on SWA) was submitted by the Council for a Tobacco-Free Ontario / conseil anti-tabagisme de l'ontario See the footnotes in the References section below

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The following is a brief description of planned National Non-Smoking Week -NNSW activities in Ontario:

Central Region

The Local Councils in Ontario's Central Region are working together by launching a media campaign for NNSW. In addition to the media campaign, the Council for a Tobacco-Free Durham Region in Whitby has planned an interactive mall display including activities such as: Carbon Monoxide testing and smoking cessation support.

Central West Region

A collaborative media campaign will take place in Ontario's Central West Region during NNSW. All Local Council in the Region will be participating in the newspaper, radio and television campaign. Advertisements during NNSW will be promoting the elimination if tobacco use.

Eastern Region

Eastern Ontario Local Councils are hard at work promoting smoke-free workplaces during NNSW. For example, The Council for a Tobacco-Free Hastings & Prince Edward Counties (CTFH&PEC) in Belleville is actively promoting smoke-free workplaces by setting up a booth in a local workplace. The booth is a collaboration with CTFH&PEC and other community health organizations. In addition to the second-hand smoke display, the council is sending a letter to the local mall to congratulate them on going smoke-free.


The Council for a Tobacco-Free Toronto is focusing their efforts on local restaurants for NNSW. They are sending a mailing out to each restaurant in Toronto promoting the "Go for the Green" campaign. Restaurants that are smoke-free and want to participate in the "Go for the Green" campaign can display a decal in their window informing the public of their smoke- free status. In addition to sending a mailing to all restaurants, the Toronto council is setting up a mall display at a different mall every day during NNSW. The mall display will also be promoting the "Go for the Green" campaign.

Northern Region

There are several councils in the Northern Region of Ontario who have developed activities for NNSW. For example, the Tobacco Action Group in Sioux Lookout is sending a survey to all local worksites on smoking in the workplace. From this survey the Tobacco Action Group will send information packages to all worksites that allow smoking. The information packages include information on topics such as designated smoking areas. For more information contact: Joanne McIvor at (807)737-2292. At the Northwestern Health Unit's web-site, there is an article on: How Workplace Issues Affect YOU! [see]

brought to you by: The Sioux Lookout Tobacco Action Group, Smoke-free Northwest - Kenora and Dryden, Healthy Communities in Rainy River, The Atikokan Tobacco Coalition, and The Northwestern Health Unit.

Southwest Region

All local councils in the Southwest Region of Ontario are collaborating to promote smoke-free workplaces. The councils have developed a newspaper, television and radio campaign to take place during NNSW. In addition to the media campaign, The Council for a Tobacco-Free Lambton (CTFL) in Point Edward is promoting a restaurant sticker campaign. The sticker campaign encourages a smoke-free dining environment. People can show their support by attaching a sticker to their bill or comment card whenever they dine out. As well CTFL is sending a certificate of registration to all Smoke-Free restaurants in their area.


1. Conference Board of Canada (1997), Smoking and the Bottom Line: The Costs of Smoking in the Workplace, Ottawa: Health Canada.

2. Stephens T, Kaiserman MJ, McCall DJ, Sutherland-Brown C. (1998), Preventing Smoking in Canada: Economic Costs and Benefits, Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, Working Paper Series #35, Toronto.

3. Stephens T, et al. (1998) - ibid.

4. The Lung Association (1995), C.A.N. DO Facts: Environmental Tobacco Smoke, C.A.N. DO The Movement for Clean Air Now.

5. The Lung Association (1995) - ibid.

6. The Lung Association (1995) - ibid.

7. The Lung Association (1997), Indoor Air Pollution in the Office, C.A.N. DO The Movement for Clean Air Now.

8. Ministry of Labour (1989), A Guide to Ontario's Workplace Smoking Law.

9. Council for a Tobacco-Free Ontario (1995), Let's Clear the Air, Ontario - Local Tobacco Control: The Facts and Issues, Central West Region.

10. Council for a Tobacco-Free Ontario (1995) - ibid.