Consortium to Fight Smoking Among Lower-Wage Workers
Labor unions and anti-smoking groups plan to join forces to establish a Consortium on Organized Labor and Tobacco Control in order to combat smoking among "blue-collar" workers, the AP/Billings Gazette reports. The American Legacy Foundation, a not-for-profit anti-tobacco organization founded in 1999 with funds from the national tobacco settlement, has awarded the consortium a $1.6 million grant to conduct research and help unions to reduce smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke among lower-wage employees. The consortium plans to launch an anti-smoking campaign that targets younger employees through union training and apprenticeship programs. Elizabeth Barbeau, who will head the consortium, said that U.S. anti-smoking campaigns have traditionally targeted professionals and higher-income employees, while "other workers have been left behind." In a 1997 study, the CDC found that laborers and craft workers account for 68% of U.S. smokers, while "white-collar" workers only account for 21%. The AP/Gazette reports that blue-collar workers began smoking at an earlier age than white-collar workers. In addition, a 1997 National Cancer Institute study found that more than 50% of white-collar employees work in a smoke-free environment, compared to less than 33% of blue-collar workers. Barbeau added that tobacco companies have targeted lower-wage employees more than white-collar employees with advertising campaigns featuring such icons as the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel. In 1997, labor unions filed more than a dozen "largely unsuccessful" lawsuits against the tobacco industry, accusing companies of targeting blue-collar workers with advertising (Strope, AP/Billings Gazette, 7/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.