A.O. Olumide1,2 and Eme T. Owoaje1
1. Department of Community Medicine, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
2. Institute of Child Health, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan
Background: Several interventions have been instituted to encourage smoking cessation among smokers. Many adults are currently working and spend several hours a day at work. Employers thus have a role to play in encouraging staff who smoke to quit. This study investigated the perception of drivers employed in the University of Ibadan, Nigeria on the role of their employers in facilitating smoking cessation among staff who smoke.
Methods: All 176 drivers employed by the University and who were available on the days of the interviews were interviewed. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to obtain information on drivers’ opinion on the role of employers in facilitating smoking cessation among staff.
Results: All the drivers were male and had a mean age of 51.2 ± 5.8 years. Five (2.8%) drivers were current smokers. One hundred and thirty-six (77.3%) drivers were of the opinion that their employers had a role to play in encouraging smoking cessation among staff who smoke. They felt this could be done by organizing workshops to sensitize staff on the dangers of smoking 73 (53.7%), educating staff about the health effects of smoking 26 (19.1%) and arresting staff caught smoking during official hours 20 (14.7%).
Conclusions: Many of the drivers felt that their employers had a role to play in encouraging smoking cessation among staff. The University authorities should build on this and take specific steps to institute a comprehensive workplace antitobacco policy which includes smoking cessation interventions to assist staff who smoke to quit.
Keywords: Tobacco cessation, Workplace no-smoking policy, Workplace smoking cessation interventions
Tobacco use including cigarette smoking is an established public health problem1 and various efforts have been put in place to curb the practice. Current data indicates that the global prevalence of smoking is declining. However, rates still remain unacceptably high and appear to be increasing in some regions of the world such as the World Health Organization (WHO) Eastern Mediterranean Region and the African Region.2 Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that globally, over 1.1 billion people comprising about 36.1% males and 6.8% females smoked tobacco in 2015 2. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) conducted in Nigeria in 2012 recorded that approximately 3.7% of individuals aged 15 years and older (comprising 7.2% of males and 0.3% of females) were current cigarette smokers.3 The deleterious effects of smoking on smokers and non-smokers exposed to environmental tobacco smoke have been previously documented.1 Some of these deleterious effects include an increased risk of developing diseases/conditions including cancers of the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems; chronic respiratory diseases (e.g., asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease); cardiovascular diseases and metabolic diseases.1, 4, 5
A high proportion of current smokers in Nigeria are adult men in the working age group3 and this has undesirable effects that extend beyond the individuals who smoke. This is because employees who smoke at work expose non-smoking co-workers to their tobacco smoke and the attendant consequences of second-hand smoke. Studies have shown that workplaces constitute important source of exposure to second-hand smoke for non-smoking adults.6-8 Furthermore, the establishment often incur losses from workers who smoke as a result of decreased productivity, increased sickness absenteeism and loss of workdays due to smoking-related illnesses, increased unproductive time during work hours as a result of smoke breaks and higher insurance premiums.9 Employers thus have an important role to play in instituting workplace smoking-control policies and interventions in order to safeguard the health of their smoking and non-smoking staff, ensure optimal workplace productivity and reduce unnecessary economic losses.
Workplaces have been identified as an ideal setting within which anti-smoking interventions can be implemented10 especially because many adults currently work and spend considerable time at their workplace. This makes the staff relatively amenable to workplace anti-smoking interventions. Researchers have documented that smoke-free workplace policies lead to reductions in the prevalence of smoking and the amount of cigarettes consumed by the staff. 11,12 Beyond having polices that prohibit smoking in the workplace, it is equally important for employers to provide smoking-cessation interventions to their staff. Extant literature has documented that smoking cessation interventions which are implemented in the workplace are cost-effective.10,13 Some work places already have no-smoking policies which include smoking cessation interventions in place. For example, WHO has a policy that prohibits smoking on its premises, and in addition to this, the organization has specific interventions aimed at supporting smoking cessation among its staff. These include provision of counselling and follow-up, and provision of prescriptions for pharmaceutical therapy (including nicotine replacement products).14