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The workplace can sometimes compromise health. For example, the level of compliance of bars with smokefree ordinances and policies, where they exist, is an important, but complicated aspect of the work environment for low SES women bartenders. As Moore et al report after studying female bar tenders in California, USA, “some of the non-compliance with smokefree bar policy is attributable to gender roles and power relations between female migrant bartenders and their patrons and bar owners”.1
Working women have many social and economic issues to deal with, in addition to protecting their health. In addition to smoke in the workplace, working women are concerned with many other hazards that require attention. As Balbach et al suggest, tobacco control advocates can help by forming authentic and positive relationships with labour unions, groups of working women, and community agencies supporting the varied needs of low SES women and tailoring policy accordingly. For example, typical tobacco policies such as tax and price, will reduce overall prevalence, but have a disproportionate effect on low SES women smokers.2
An important component of many women smokers’ lives is home, children and sometimes, lone motherhood. As Graham et al illustrate, smoking patterns among women are clearly influenced by “biographies of disadvantage” that include poor childhoods, early school leaving, and early motherhood. A truly comprehensive tobacco control framework that benefits low SES women will be concerned with improving both smoking patterns and women’s social and economic conditions.4
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