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Promoting tobacco cessation via the workplace: opportunities for improvement
  1. M Courtney Hughes1,
  2. Emily M Yette2,
  3. Peggy A Hannon1,
  4. Jeffrey R Harris1,
  5. Nguyet M Tran3,
  6. Terry R Reid3
  1. 1Department of Health Services, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  2. 2Washington State Department of Corrections, Tumwater, Washington, USA
  3. 3Washington State Department of Health, Olympia, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to M Courtney Hughes, Department of Health Services, The University of Washington, Box 354804, Seattle, WA, USA 98195; mchughes{at}


Introduction Little research exists on the prevalence of evidence-based tobacco cessation practices in workplaces, employer promotion of state-sponsored quitlines and predictors of these practices.

Methods Cross-sectional analysis of the 2008 Healthy Worksite Survey, a telephone survey administered to Washington employers with 50 or more employees (n=693). The objectives were to describe workplaces' implementation of evidence-based tobacco cessation practices and identify key predictors of implementation in order to highlight opportunities for interventions.

Results Among these employers, 38.6% promoted quitting tobacco, and 33.8% offered insurance coverage for cessation medications and counselling, 27.5% referred no-smoking violators to cessation services, and 5.7% included the state-sponsored quitline in health promotion messages. Larger workplaces and workplaces with a wellness staff, committee or coordinator had greater insurance coverage for tobacco cessation, communications promoting tobacco cessation, and promotion of the state-sponsored quitline (p<0.01). Workplaces with a wellness staff, committee or coordinator referred more violators of no-smoking policies to cessation services (p<0.01).

Conclusions In Washington State workplaces do little to promote tobacco cessation by their employees. The lack of tobacco cessation promoting practices at small businesses, restaurants and bars, and businesses without wellness personnel indicates an opportunity for finding and reaching current smokers at businesses with limited resources. By adopting inexpensive prevention efforts, such as promoting the state-sponsored tobacco cessation quitline, employers can help employees quit smoking and, thereby, assist in improving employee health and lower medical costs.

  • Workplace
  • cessation
  • policy
  • quitline
  • public policy

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  • Funding This work was supported in part by a grant from the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, Washington State Department of Health; in part from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute through the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network, a network within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Research Centers Program (grant number 1-U48-DP000050); and in part from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grant number P01-CD000249). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The University of Washington Institutional Review Board exempted this study from review.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.