Impact of smoke-free workplace legislation on exposures and health: possibilities for prevention

Jouni Jaakkola, Maritta Jaakkola

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    51 Citations (Scopus)


    The aims of this study were to review experiences with national or statewide smoke-free workplace legislation and data on the occurrence of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure at work, to present the best estimates for health effects related to workplace ETS exposure, and to calculate corresponding population attributable fractions (PAFs) for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases for 14 European countries and the USA. Systematic searches of the Medline database were carried out, with a cut-off date of November 2005. PAFs for the main outcomes were calculated from the best disease-specific effect estimates and country-specific prevalences of work ETS exposure. Significant numbers of workers are exposed to ETS at work, i.e. approximately 7.5 million workers in 15 European Union countries and 24.6 million in the USA. Workplace ETS exposure is causally linked to lung cancer and coronary heart disease, and is related to an increased risk of asthma in adults and reduced birthweight in newborns. Relatively strong evidence links ETS exposure to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and stroke. PAFs in Europe and the USA showed that, at current workplace ETS exposure prevalences, the public health impact is substantial. Experience of national and statewide smoke-free workplace legislation from different countries shows that such legislation leads to significant reductions in employees' environmental tobacco smoke exposure at work, as well as improvements in respiratory and cardiac health.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)397-408
    Number of pages12
    JournalThe European respiratory journal
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2006


    • coronary heart disease
    • lung cancer
    • legislation
    • asthma
    • tobacco smoke pollution
    • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


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