African Americans, Hispanics, service and blue-collar workers, and residents of rural areas are among those facing higher rates of workplace secondhand smoke exposure in states without smokefree workplace laws. Consequently, these groups also experience more negative health effects resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. The objective of this study was to examine disparities in workplace secondhand smoke exposure in a state without a comprehensive statewide smokefree workplace law and to use this information in considering a statewide law.
We developed a logistic multilevel model by using data from a 2007-2008 county-level study to account for individual and county-level differences in workplace secondhand smoke exposure. We included sex, age, race, annual income, education level, smoking status, and rural or urban residence as predictors of workplace secondhand smoke exposure.
Factors significantly associated with increased exposure to workplace secondhand smoke were male sex, lower education levels, lower income, living in a small rural or isolated area, and current smoking. For example, although the overall rate of workplace exposure in Missouri is 11.5%, our model predicts that among young white men with low incomes and limited education living in small rural areas, 40% of nonsmokers and 56% of smokers may be exposed to secondhand smoke at work.
Significant disparities exist in workplace secondhand smoke exposure across Missouri. A statewide smokefree workplace law would protect all citizens from workplace secondhand smoke exposure.