National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

Workplace Tobacco Management Project Research Findings (Evaluation) Report by Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT

Findings concerning project aims

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At the commencement of the project all pilot sites were asked how they would go about developing and implementing a workplace tobacco management policy. A range of methods were discussed including potential barriers and enablers.

Approaches to implementing a workplace tobacco management policy

Before the commencement of the baseline survey feedback from staff was received concerning the terminology in use with the project. Staff in particular provided feedback that the terminology being used may be inappropriate and was in fact contributing to the anxiety around smoke-free policies being introduced. This led to inclusion of a question in the first site survey about what staff and organisations would prefer to call their policy.

Across the nine pilot sites there were a variety of responses when the staff members were initially introduced to the Project. While there were different individual responses, there appeared to be little variation within each workplace. This is in part due the dynamics of the groups interactions as people discussed the issues and come to a point of agreement through social interaction.

The reaction of each workplace did not directly correlate to the amount of smokers in each workplace. For example, the only workplace where there was a 100% smoking rate was the workplace that was most keen to participate in the Project and excited, if somewhat trepidatious, about managing their tobacco consumption. Two other worksites with very high smoking rates, both self-reported as approximately 75%, had divergent initial responses. One site had mixed responses but could see why they needed to take part, whilst the other site was resentful and angst ridden.

Despite the variation in initial responses to the project the prevailing responses were emotional, in particular the reactions from current smokers. The emotional responses were far from simple. Rather, most individuals had a mixture of emotions. For example, several individuals were happy at being supported to manage their smoking but felt sad and often fearful at both ʻquittingʼ and the prospect of living without smoking. Other peopleʼs reactions were characterised as emblematic of cognitive dissonance as their internal conflict manifest itself in rationalisations and justifications for their smoking in an obviously agitated manner (see above).

While the initial introduction of staff to the WPTMP elicited a range of responses, both positive and negative, with passing of time all of the workplaces, including the individuals with the strongest appearances of resentment and anger, eventually came to embrace the WPTMP to varying degrees. As shown below, there was a distinct shift in support for the policy development and implementation process across the period of the project.

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