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Approximately 20 million nonsmoking workers are employed in workplaces without restrictions on smoking and are potentially exposed to secondhand smoke--a Class A carcinogen. These workers are largely in the service industry, in southern and western states and in non-urban areas. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) 1994 proposal for smoke-free workplaces (withdrawn in 2001) was attacked by many interest groups that may no longer oppose this protection. Federal regulation for smoke-free workplaces is needed for workers, who are not protected by state and local smoke-free laws. This policy could save thousands of lives each year, and prevent significant illness. Twenty-one states have "state plans" that would allow more protective laws. Of the 29 states under OSHA, 11 have comprehensive smoke-free statutes. Changes in the policy environment and in institutions such as unions, restaurant associations, and the tobacco industry since 2001 may improve the prospects for federal action and reduce disparities that currently characterize exposure to secondhand smoke.


David Ahrens. Ten years after: is it time to revisit the 1994 OSHA indoor air quality rule? New solutions : a journal of environmental and occupational health policy : NS. 2011;21(2):219-34

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PMID: 21733802

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