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Tobacco Smoke and Heart Health in the Workplace

Think smoking is only hazardous to your health? Think again! Smoking employees can be hazardous to a company’s bottom-line in terms of absenteeism, lost productivity, increased insurance costs and smoking area costs. It is estimated that each smoking employee costs their employer $4,256 per year.

Connecting Heart Disease and Tobacco Smoke

Exposure to tobacco smoke (either from smoking or from second-hand smoke) is a major risk factor for the development of heart disease.

In Peel, heart disease is the number one cause of death among males and females accounting for approximately 20% of all deaths. The single most important precaution you can take to protect your heart is avoiding exposure to tobacco smoke.

Tobacco smokes negatively affects the cardiovascular system by:

  • Constricting and damaging blood vessels
  • Increasing heart rate
  • Increasing blood pressure
  • Increasing the ability of cholesterol to deposit in damaged arteries
  • Depriving red blood cells of oxygen
  • Preventing oxygen from travelling through the body

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Support Smoking Cessation in the Workplace

Since May 2006, smoking has been prohibited in all enclosed public places and workplaces under the Smoke Free Ontario Act. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that everyone in their workplace is aware of this new legislation and is in compliance with its requirements.

A smoke-free workplace is only the beginning. Here are some tips to support smoking cessation in your workplace.

  • Create a comprehensive tobacco policy which may include:

    • 100% smoke free grounds or a smoke-free distance from workplace entrance ways
    • Providing educational materials, workshops and/or displays to help employees reduce or quit smoking
  • Consider adding to your benefits package:

    • Coverage for quit smoking aids such as medications, the gum or other smoking cessation therapies
    • An employee assistance program (EAP) that offers general or specific quit smoking counselling or coaching
  • Encourage employees to use smoking cessation services in your community such as:

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Facts & Stats

  • In Ontario, $2.6 billion in lost productivity can be attributed to tobacco related diseases (Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care).
  • Cigarette smoking can be attributed to approximately 30% of all coronary heart disease deaths each year
  • Those who quit smoking can cut their risk in half of having another heart attack or dying of heart disease

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Additional Resources

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Revised: November 17, 2015

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