The Role of Labor Organizations in Tobacco Control: What Do Unionized Workers Think?

Mitchell, Rebecca J.; Weisman, Susan R.; Jones, Resa M.; Erickson, Darin
January 2009
American Journal of Health Promotion;Jan/Feb2009, Vol. 23 Issue 3, p182
Academic Journal
Purpose. Examine unionized workers' knowledge and attitudes about workplace tobacco use~ their exposure to secondhand smoke, and the role of labor unions in addressing smoking and cessation coverage policies. Design. Random-digit dial telephone survey. Subjects. Unionized workers in Minnesota (N = 508). Measures. Knowledge and attitudes about workplace tobacco use and tobacco control policy making. Analysis. Multiple logistic regression. Results. The majority of respondents viewed secondhand smoke exposure as an important workplace health and safety issue, a health risk to nonsmokers, and a driver of increased health care costs, but smokers were less likely than nonsmokers to agree. Only 7% of respondents supported their unions taking the lead in tobacco control policy making. A large majority of those surveyed rated smoking cessation programs as an important benefit for which their labor unions could bargain; however, smokers and those whose workplaces allowed smoking were less likely than their counterparts to agree. Conclusions. Most unionized workers were aware of the health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke and supported union bargaining for restrictions on workplace smoking and cessation programs, although few workers supported their unions taking the lead in initiating worksite smoking policies. Results suggest that campaigns to promote smoke-free worksites should be tailored to unionized workers, and further collaborations with labor unions to promote policy change are needed.


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