Disparities in Smoke-Free Workplace Policies Among Food Service Workers

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Information is lacking on which groups of workers are protected from job-related environmental tobacco smoke. Data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey are analyzed for trends in smoke-free workplace policies among 38 major occupations. Data are also analyzed to determine the degree of compliance with such policies. Although over three fourths of white collar workers are covered by smoke-free policies, including 90% of teachers, just 43% of the country’s 6.6 million food preparation and service occupations workers benefit from this level of protection. Compliance with workplace restrictions is not a significant human resources issue because only 3.8% of workers reported that someone violated a smoke-free policy in 1999, down from 4.9% in 1996. Protection for workers is increasing, but those in food preparation and service occupations are significantly less protected than others.

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