Background: Smoking regulations at the workplace have been found to be acceptable and effective in many studies conducted in the United States. There is limited knowledge, however, on acceptance and effects of smoking regulations in European countries, particularly among blue collar employees.
Methods: We conducted a survey on smoking behaviour and attitude toward smoking regulations and passive smoking in a South German metal company. A self-administered questionnaire was mailed to 1,500 predominantly blue collar employees of whom 974 participated in the study (response rate 64.9%).
Results: About 30% of the employees were not allowed to smoke at their immediate work area. Among them, about 95% of both smokers and nonsmokers agreed with this smoking policy. More than 60% of nonsmoking blue collar workers were bothered by passive smoking at work whether or not smoking was allowed at their immediate work area. In contrast, the proportion of nonsmoking white collar employees who were bothered by passive smoking varied from 52% if smoking was allowed at their immediate work area to 18% if smoking was not allowed. Prevalence of active smoking and average amount of smoking among active smokers were considerably lower among employees who were not allowed to smoke at work than among other employees. These differences were partly due to confounding by occupation, however, which was strongly related to both smoking habits and smoking policy.
Conclusions: Our results, which confirm and extend previous findings, give further support to the acceptability and potential effectiveness of smoking regulations at the workplace. Particular efforts should be devoted to limit both active and passive smoking among blue collar employees.