Restaurant workers represent a large segment of the workforce in Chinatown and Chinese urban communities. Many do not speak English well and most are male.
In 2008, the Chinese Australian Tobacco and Health Network (CATHN) consulted with managers in Chinese restaurants in Haymarket and found that 20-40% restaurant workers smoked tobacco. An early study in Boston's Chinatown reported 83.3% male restaurant workers smoked cigarettes regularly (Averbach et al 2002).
CATHN consists of representatives from Health Promotion Services in the South Western Sydney and Sydney LHDs, South Eastern Sydney LHD, Northern Sydney LHD and Western Sydney LHD and Cancer Council NSW.
In 2009, the project was implemented in the Eastwood and Hornsby areas. Chinese media was used to promote the quit message over a four week period. This included radio interviews with tobacco experts and paid advertisements in major Chinese newspapers and radio.
At a local level, project staff visited major Chinese restaurants and spoke with restaurant owners and managers. Resource kits, which included aprons, posters and other information to help workers quit, were provided to workers. Across the metropolitan Sydney area over 120 restaurants were visited, with about 250 resource kits going to workers.
The goal was to raise awareness of tobacco harm and to encourage smokers to call the Chinese Quitline. There was a 90% increase in calls to the Chinese Quitline, compared to the same period the previous year.
The current activity in the Healthy Restaurant Healthy Workers project explores the knowledge and attitudes of male Chinese restaurant workers with regard to tobacco use and quitting.
Male workers in Chinese restaurants in Haymarket, Hurstville, Chatswood and Parramatta have been surveyed to:
- determine smoking prevalence
- determine knowledge and attitudes to smoking related harm and quitting
- identify barriers that prevent workers from quitting smoking
- provide a sound basis to develop and support projects to promote the harms of smoking and benefits of quitting.
The findings will guide the projects targeting the needs of male Chinese restaurant workers around smoking related health issues, the benefits of quitting and smoking cessation support.