Where You Work Affects Whether You Smoke

September 30, 2011


While the United States has made huge progress in reducing smoking, not all Americans are benefiting equally. Where you work can make a big difference in whether you smoke — and how healthy you are.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at smoking rates by industry and occupation and found large differences.  Smoking rates are highest in hotel and food services, mining and construction industries at about 30 percent. Educators had the lowest smoking rates at less than 10 percent.  Nationally, the smoking rate among all adults has declined to 19.3 percent.

Employers can help reduce smoking by implementing smoke-free workplace policies, providing help for those who want to quit, and providing health insurance that covers cessation treatments with no co-payment.

Elected officials also must do their part to protect all Americans from tobacco regardless of where they live or work.  Every state should fund tobacco prevention and stop-smoking programs and adopt smoke-free laws that protect all workers from secondhand smoke — and encourage smokers to quit.  Smoke-free laws especially benefit food service workers, who often work in smoky restaurants and bars.

These policies improve worker health, decrease absenteeism and reduce health care costs, the CDC notes.

'We know that if you work in a place that's smoke-free and you work in a place that offers help in quitting smoking, the less likely you are to smoke,' says Danny McGoldrick, vice president for research at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.