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Smoker-free workplace policies: developing a model of public health consequences of workplace policies barring employment to smokers
  1. B Houle1,
  2. M Siegel2
  1. 1
    Department of Sociology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  2. 2
    Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Brian Houle, Department of Sociology, University of Washington, 223D Condon Hall, Box 353340, 1100 NE Campus Pkwy, Seattle, WA 98195, USA; bhoule{at}


A marked shift in tobacco-related workplace health promotion intervention involves the adoption of policies barring employment to smokers. We discuss the potential public health consequences of these policies on those affected—smokers, their families, the surrounding community and society at large. We find a lack of published evidence evaluating the effectiveness and consequences of these policies. By developing a model of policy effects, we outline possible unintended consequences. With such large gaps in the evidence base and the potential for deleterious consequences, we argue for increased discussion about the use of smoker-free employment policies as a public health intervention and for increased engagement of employers by the public health community in worksite health promotion.

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  • Competing interests: None.