Put Smoke-Free Policies On Your Menu

by | Feb 18, 2020

Have you spotted us out and about lately? HCCA’s tobacco prevention team is dropping in on employers in Kennebec County to talk about smoke-free workplace policies, the impact of legal changes in the past year, and supporting employees who are trying to quit. One key workplace hit hard by tobacco use? Hospitality.

There are somethings that particularly affect those careers:

  • Stress: Long hours, irregular shifts, working with the public, physically demanding work – all of these things can drive a need for stress relief throughout the day. In fact, food and beverage top the list of industries in which employees felt the highest rates of work-related stress. (Read more about workplace stress and smoking in Care About Employee Mental Health? This Matters Too.) Smoking allows employees to take frequent, quick breaks, and many feel that smoking helps them de-stress.
  • Camaraderie: The teamwork required to pull off a complicated, ever-changing and stressful role with a high level of scrutiny from the public means people in the hospitality industry need to trust each other. Smoke breaks are a way to bond with co-workers and even managers throughout the day. In fact, a recent study found male smokers with male managers who also smoke are promoted faster than those who do not share this habit with their boss.

What do these factors lead to? The hospitality industry has a 30% tobacco use rate, according to The EX Program. And that means serious consequences for employees AND employers.

In addition to creating damaging nicotine use and exposing employees to the tobacco risks we’re well aware of, there is a serious hit to productivity and increases healthcare costs.

After a rush in a restaurant, for example, it’s common for kitchen staff to go out for an after-service cigarette. Given a choice to join in or stay back and get a jump on cleaning the kitchen…which would you choose?

Non-smokers may also feel that smokers are using their vaping or smoking as an excuse to step out more, leading them to compensate by taking “important” cell phone calls or long bathroom breaks, hurting workplace productivity even further.

(By Rene Asmussen from Pexels)

The EX Program also calls out these negative impacts:

  • Interfering with food workers’ ability to taste and smell
  • Creating food safety hazards and health risks if smokers forget to wash their hands.
  • Generating a negative customer experience for those who balk at the smell of tobacco

The good news is, HCCA can help Kennebec County employers turn this trend around!

  • We can help create policies that set expectations for breaks and where tobacco/vaping can and can’t be used
  • We can help you connect employees to free, evidence-based resources like the Maine Tobacco Helpline (1-800-207-1230) and TheQuitLink.com that offer individualized support for smokers who are thinking about quitting

Reach out to us today to learn more!


Blog created with verbiage, materials and insights from TheEXProgram.com.

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