tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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Diff’rent Smokes for Diff’rent Folks?

A new study by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reveals that 33.6 million full-time employees ages 18 to 64 — or 28 percent of workers — reported they smoked cigarettes in the past month, based on survey data from 2006 to 2008.

Among the 22 major occupational categories studied, the highest rate of past-month cigarette use among 73,000 full-time American workers was found in the food-preparation and serving-related occupations (45 percent), according to Cigarette Use among Adults Employed Full Time, by Occupational Category.

Second on the list was construction work and mining, at 43 percent.

By contrast, the lowest rates were seen among those employed in the education, training and library occupations (12 percent), and the life, physical and social sciences area (15 percent.)

In the United States, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and contributes to chronic illnesses of millions of individuals, the administration declares.

“The workplace is an ideal location for programs to educate employees about the risks of smoking and programs to promote smoking cessation to reduce risks of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer,” said the acting administrator at SAMHSA, Eric Broderick, in announcing the findings.

“The study provides important insight and updated information that can be used to assist in the developing or refining of smoking-cessation efforts to specific workplace groups,” he said.

But one employment-law expert cautions employers to tread carefully when implementing smoking-cessation programs or smoking bans in their workplace.

“The notion that employers should influence the lawful conduct of employees, including smoking, is not without controversy,” says Nickolas Spiliotis, a Cozen O’Connor labor-and-employment attorney based in Houston.

“When implementing smoking bans and smoking-cessation programs, both public and private employers should first ascertain the level of discretion allowed to them under state and local laws. Some states may require smoking bans to have some connection to work performance or safety reasons,” he says.

He adds that, while the study shows how prevalent smoking is among different professions, employers should also use caution when trying to target cessation programs to specific subgroups of workers.

“The inclusion of one group of employees in a smoking-cessation program, and not others, could result in allegations of discrimination,” he says.

“While smoking habits of employees differ by profession for a number of reasons, a program that provides the right kind of incentives in the form of rebates and discounts, without discriminating against smokers, could increase the health of workers and decrease the cost of health insurance offered by employers.”

Fiona Gathright is founder of Bethesda, Md.-based Wellness Corporate Solutions, which implements employee-wellness programs for companies nationwide, including smoking-cessation programs. She says an effective cessation program, regardless of which occupational group it targets, must begin with the identification of effective motivations.

“Think about your audience,” she says. “It’s like any PR campaign: What’s the audience and what will motivate them? It becomes a question of appropriate incentives and trying to move the whole group,” she says.

“But some people might not be motivated by the fact that smoking kills,” she says. “But maybe those people would be more apt to quit if they knew how much money they would save, not only in healthcare costs, but also from just not buying cigarettes on a daily basis.”

Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA’s Office of Applied Studies in Rockville, Md., says the report merely gathers facts and that the occupations listed in the study should not be read as a “worst to best” characterization of occupations.

“The key is that [the study] provides [the] public and employers and specialists some information about where we see higher rates of smoking and where to put their resources,” he says.

The take-home message, he says, is that the study makes it clear that smoking is still a serious health concern in the country, and employers can play an important part of helping people quit smoking.

“This is still an area where we need to do more work,” he says.

While different occupations may have greatly differing rates of smokers, Delany says, effective quitting policies must be adapted to the targeted population if they are to be successful.

“It’s all in the context of how you’ll use those resources,” he says. “The intervention might be the same kind of strategy [for different types of workers], but the context is important.”

Delany adds that smoking is a “very preventable” problem, and the study offers yet another piece of information for employers that can help them work with workers to curb tobacco addictions.

Before starting a smoking-cessation program in the workplace, he advises employers to first “find out the level of the problem at the workplace. Then think about the policies and intervention practices that already have some science behind them. People should look really closely at evidence-based practices to see what’s worth doing.”

He also says that working with an EAP on a promotional campaign that gives incentives to smokers to quit can help people see that it’s really a positive thing for them to stop smoking.

“HR executives can play a substantial role in reducing the burden of smoking in the workplace, as well as the public burden of smoking and smoking-related disorders. The truth is, if you improve a person’s overall health, you’re going to get a better worker and fewer absences. The payoff is pretty big if you can get people to stop smoking.”

October 26, 2009 Hreonline

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