The program, which was tested among workers at 15 manufacturing firms in Eastern Massachusetts, differed from previous smoking-cessation efforts in that it ran in tandem with a broader occupational health and safety initiative. The combination may have made the critical difference in the program's effectiveness, researchers say.
A report on the study and its impact on workers at the participating companies is being published in the August issue of the journal Cancer Causes and Control. It is currently available on its website.
"Despite an overall drop since the 1960s in the number of people who smoke, the rate of decline hasn't been equal for all groups," says the study's lead author, Glorian Sorensen, PhD, MPH, who is the director of Dana-Farber's Center for Community-Based Research. In 1997, the smoking prevalence among blue-collar workers was 37 percent for men and 33 percent for women, compared to 21 percent for men and 20 percent for women in white-collar occupations. Similar figures exist for other healthy habits such as eating sufficient fruits and vegetables (which can reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancers).
"There's evidence that although blue-collar workers attempt to quit smoking as often as other workers do, they tend to be less successful," Sorensen says. "Also, when messages about quitting smoking and eating healthily are presented in the workplace, they often don't have as big an impact on the habits of blue-collar workers as on others."
Such programs might be more effective, researchers theorized, if they were incorporated into ongoing efforts to reduce workers' ex
Contact: Janet Haley Dubow
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute