A puff away from workplace

New Delhi, Jan 25 | Updated: Jan 26 2005, 05:30am hrs
Smoking is finally drifting out of the workplace the world over, according to a recent report by the International Labour Office (ILO).

Considered one of the most serious occupational health hazards, the report says globally there had been a perceptible change in attitudes towards smoking. However, it noted that many workers still faced a long road ahead for clean air in their workplaces, especially in the hospitality industry.

The report, Workplace Smoking: A Review of National and Local Practical and Regulatory Measures, noted that the world over employers were taking the issue of passive smoking seriously. Some had even taken salary initiatives for workers who kicked the habit, while some had employed non-smoking marshalls to enforce the ban on smoking.

Trade unions, too, were showing increasing interest in protecting the health of their members, especially in the hospitality industry, the report said.

While poor countries had other health-related priority issues to spend on, like malaria and HIV/AIDS, money spent on tobacco consumption could be put to better use, providing food or education, it said. The report cited a survey of rickshaw-pullers in Dhaka, who are said to be spending up to 40% of their earnings on smoking.

The negative health effects of smoking and passive smoking have become common knowledge in many parts of the world, says Carin Hakansta, author of the report. But she notes that getting rid of smoking as a habit outside will take time before awareness levels are where they should be, and before the main actors deal with the issue in a responsible way.