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Association Between Exposure to Workplace Secondhand Smoke and Reported Respiratory and Sensory Symptoms: Cross-Sectional Study

Wakefield, Melanie PhD; Trotter, Lisa MA (Psych); Cameron, Melissa MPH; Woodward, Alistair PhD; Inglis, Graeme M.App (Stats); Hill, David PhD

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: June 2003 - Volume 45 - Issue 6 - pp 622-627
Original Articles

The purpose of this work was to assess the relation between exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) at work and reported respiratory and sensory symptoms. A cross-sectional telephone survey of 382 nonsmoking indoor workers in Victoria, Australia was used. After controlling for potential confounders, exposure to SHS at work for part of the day was significantly associated with an increased risk of wheeze (OR = 4.26), frequent cough (OR = 2.26), sore eyes (OR = 3.77), and sore throat (OR = 2.70). Among workers who had not experienced a cold in the past 4 weeks, we found strong dose–response relationships between increasing levels of exposure to SHS at work and morning cough, frequent cough, sore eyes and sore throat, and a positive relationship for wheeze. These findings provide compelling evidence that nonsmoking indoor workers are adversely affected by exposure to SHS at work and underline the importance of workplace smoke-free policies in protecting the health of workers.

From the Centre for Behavioral Research in Cancer, Cancer Control Research Institute, The Cancer Council Victoria, Carlton, Victoria, Australia (Dr Wakefield, Ms Trotter, Ms Cameron, Mr Inglis); Department of Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, Wellington South, New Zealand (Dr Woodward); and The Cancer Council Victoria, Carlton, Victoria, Australia (Dr Hill).

Address correspondence to: Melanie Wakefield, PhD, Director, Centre for Behavioral Research in Cancer, Cancer Control Research Institute, The Cancer Council Victoria, 1 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, Victoria Australia 3053; e-mail: Melanie.Wakefield@cancervic.gov.au.

©2003The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine