The present study examined time trends and associations in exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) at work in Finland in 1985-2008 and compliance with national smoke-free workplace legislation that has been enforced since 1995.
The study population comprised respondents of nationally representative annual postal surveys from 1985 to 2008. The differences in the prevalence of SHS-exposed respondents were measured with particular reference to workplace size and workplace smoking arrangements.
From 1985 to 2008 daily exposure to SHS at work decreased in all workplaces. The annual decrease was largest in 1994-95 when the smoke-free workplace legislation was enacted. The proportion of exposed employees in workplaces with designated smoking rooms was two-fold compared to employees in workplaces where no one smoked, and this ratio remained unchanged between 1995 and 2008. Employees in small workplaces were exposed most and exposure to SHS was lowest in the largest workplaces.
Totally smoke-free workplaces give better protection against the exposure to SHS than workplaces with designated smoking areas. We urge a law reform that does not allow any designated smoking rooms indoors. In the prevention of SHS exposure, special attention should be directed to small workplaces.