Background: The relationship between smoking regulations at the workplace and smoking habits was assessed among public-sector employees in southern Germany.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 931 employees who were working under three different, long-existing types of smoking regulations: (a) no restrictions at all, (b) a requirement that employees make their own agreement, and (c) a general prohibition of smoking.
Results: Smoking prevalence was lower among employees at workplaces with smoking restrictions (24.8 and 29.2% for workplaces with the agreement policy and the general smoking ban, respectively) than among other employees (31.4%), but these differences were not statistically significant. Large and highly statistically significant (P < 0.001) differences were found, however, in the average numbers of cigarettes smoked per day by active smokers. The mean number ranged from 20.5 in smokers without worksite restrictions to 14.1 and 13.2 in smokers working under the agreement policy and the general smoking ban, respectively. These differences persisted after multivariable control for potential confounders.
Conclusion: Despite inherent limitations of the cross-sectional study design, our results suggest that regulation of smoking at the workplace may help active smokers substantially reduce their daily cigarette consumption. Such regulations might therefore be very effective public health measures.