To reduce the negative consequences of smoking, workplaces have adopted and implemented anti-smoking initiatives. Compared to large workplaces, less research exists about these initiatives at smaller workplaces, which are more likely to hire low-wage workers with higher rates of smoking. The purpose of this study was to describe and compare the smoking policies and smoking cessation activities at small (20-99 employees) and very small (< 20 employees) workplaces.
Thirty-two key informants coming from small and very small workplaces in Iowa completed qualitative telephone interviews. Data collection occurred between October 2016 and February 2017. Participants gave descriptions of the anti-smoking initiatives at their workplace. Additional interview topics included questions on enforcement, reasons for adoption, and barriers and facilitators to adoption and implementation. The data were analyzed using counts and content and thematic analysis.
Workplace smoking policies were nearly universal (n = 31, 97%), and most workplaces (n = 21, 66%) offered activities to help employees quit smoking. Reasons for adoption included the Iowa Smokefree Air Act, to improve employee health, and organizational benefits (e.g., reduced insurance costs). Few challenges existed to adoption and implementation. Commonly cited facilitators included the Iowa Smokefree Air Act, no issues with compliance, and support from others. Compared to small workplaces, very small workplaces offered cessation activities less often and had fewer tobacco policy restrictions.
This study showed well-established tobacco control efforts in small workplaces, but very small workplaces lagged behind. To reduce potential health disparities in smoking, future research and intervention efforts in tobacco control should focus on very small workplaces.