Objective: To determine the extent of exposure of nonsmoking indoor workers to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) according to type of work-site smoking policy, work area, workplace size, and demographic characteristics.
Design and participants: Participants included 7162 adult, nonsmoking, indoor workers who were interviewed as part of the 1990 California Tobacco Survey. Respondents were asked whether anyone had smoked in their work area within the past 2 weeks.
Results: An estimated 2.2 million California nonsmokers were exposed to tobacco smoke at indoor work sites in 1990. Nonsmoker exposure to ETS was 9.3% for those working in a smoke-free worksite, 23.2% for those working where there was only a work-area restriction, 46.7% for those working where there was a policy that did not include the work area, and 51.4% for those working where there was no work-site smoking policy. After adjustment for type of work area (eg, office, open area), workplace size, and demographic factors, it was determined that nonsmokers working where there was only a work-area ban were 2.8 times more likely to be exposed to ETS than those working in a smoke-free work site. In workplaces with no policy or a policy not covering the work area, nonsmokers were over eight times more likely to be exposed to ETS than those who worked in a smoke-free work site. Nonsmokers who were 18 to 24 years of age, male, or Hispanic, and those with less than a high school education had more exposure to ETS.
Conclusion: These results indicate that adequate protection of nonsmokers from ETS exposure requires a smoke-free work site.