Strengthening tobacco-free worksite policies in India
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Public Health Foundation of India, Health Promotion Division, India
University of South California, USC Institute for Global Health, United States of America
Publication date: 2018-03-01
Tob. Induc. Dis. 2018;16(Suppl 1):A161
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The International Labor Organization identifies tobacco use as workplace health hazard. The workplaces are key locations for implementing health promotion wellness initiatives. Tobacco-free workplace policies curtail tobacco use, prevent exposure to tobacco smoke, and increase cessation attempts among employees. The aim of this study (2016) was to generate evidence to inform corporate health and cancer prevention programmes.

The study was conducted with 10 worksites (manufacturing, technology and health care); size 250-5000 employees, purposively selected from 3 Indian cities (Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with Human Resource Managers/Medical Officers. All interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed and coded using Dedoose.

The focus of the programs was on disease management, nutrition, physical activity, stress management and smoking. Smoking was most prevalent form of tobacco use amongst employees and commonly used places for smoking were staircases/parking areas. Almost all worksites had smoke-free policies and without provision of formal/informal designated smoking areas. Medical check-ups, talks on consequences of tobacco use, no-smoking runs, smoking cessation camps and counselling sessions represented some of the wellness activities offered by the worksites.
Restriction on the use of smokeless tobacco (SLT) or support to quit SLT was not covered under any policies, despite a large number of SLT users. Almost all workplace did not have a cessation programs. One workplace had a counselor for smokers and two workplaces had cancer screening programs for women. Returns on investments was considered to be a motivation for the corporates for implementing these programs. Low levels of employees' participation were considered as a barrier.

The wellness program at worksites should be need-based and driven by data on consumption patterns. Increasing the knowledge about the health harms, providing cessation support and incentives could be the strategies for improving employees' participation.

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