Smoking among migrant factory workers in Thailand
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Mahidol University, Faculty of Public Health, Thailand
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A905
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In Thailand, Samut Sakhon province is the location of thousands of factories that employ Myanmar migrants to process seafood and in the production of other goods. Our aim was to characterize migrants' smoking status and the factors that are important to smoking-related behaviors of this worker population.

A questionnaire was used to evaluate socio-demographic, personal and psychosocial factors related to smoking status. Variables assessed included smoking status, knowledge and behavior. Sample size was calculated using experience from a previous study of migrant workers in this province. A convenience sample of 300 migrant workers at one factory was collected.

Most migrant workers were males, with 90% current smokers. Most workers were married, but many did not have their families with them since they came as low-wage day workers. Mean age of smoking initiation was 18.59 years. Male gender, limited education, poor knowledge of smoking harms, smoking by friends, and having 6 or more of their 10 closest friends smoking were significant predictors of smoking (p-value < 0.05). While these variables were significant, the psychosocial variables of workplace and community circumstances (separation from family and isolation from the larger Thai community) resulted in a very high smoking rate among the male workers interviewed (94%). There was limited encouragement to quit smoking in the migrant work setting or community.

Our results and analysis shows high conformity to peer and workplace conditions which enabled and reinforced smoking behavior. Policies and actions to inform migrants of the dangers of tobacco use and the establishment of smoke-free environments in the workplace and community when working in Thailand should be developed within the migrant community. Since interventions have been developed for Thai factory workers, similar projects in the migrant community should be developed and implemented to promote better health for migrant workers.

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