THURSDAY, Sept. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Almost 20 percent of
American workers are smokers, particularly the least educated,
poorest, youngest and uninsured, a new government report finds.
Of workers without a high school education, more than 28 percent
smoke, similar to people with no health insurance. Nearly 28
percent of those living below the federal poverty level and 24
percent of adults aged 18 to 24 smoke, according to the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The smoking rate is 19.3 percent among all adults in the United States," said report co-author Ann M. Malarcher, a senior scientific adviser in the Office on Smoking and Health at the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
It's known what works to help these workers quit smoking,
Malarcher said. For instance, employers can cover their workers
health insurance, including waiving co-payments for smoking
"We also know that establishing 100 percent smoke-free workplace policies does support and assist people with quitting smoking," she added.
More education is also needed about the dangers of smoking,
The report was published in the Sept. 30 issue of
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a CDC publication.
Using data from the National Health Interview Survey for
2004-2010, the researchers also found that smoking prevalence among
workers varied by industry and job.
Among those in educational services, less than 10 percent
smoked, compared with 30 percent among people in mining and food
services industries. By job, the range of smokers went from less
than 9 percent among those in education to more than 31 percent
among construction workers, the researchers found.
"We were surprised by the disparities among the occupational groups," Malarcher said. "There is a threefold [difference] between the lowest groups and the highest groups."
Variations in education among the people in these jobs explain
some of these differences, Malarcher said.
Younger workers are also more likely to be smokers, the
researches found. However, older workers are less likely to smoke.
Among those aged 65 and older, a little more than 10 percent were
smokers. In addition, smoking was highest among men, whites and
those who did not graduate from high school, the researchers
"Well, there is good news and bad news," said Dr. Norman H. Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. "On the one hand, overall smoking rates are still declining; on the other hand, the rates of decline are less than what we wished for."
The hardest to reach are young men who are poor, not
well-educated and employed in jobs involving physical labor,
"It seems clear that we need better strategies to reach these people with smoking cessation programs. A good way to start would be prohibition of smoking in their workplaces, which has been shown to reduce smoking rates," he said.
Danny McGoldrick, research director at the Campaign for
Tobacco-Free Kids, said that employers can do a lot to help their
workers quit smoking.
"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, you are less likely to smoke," he said. "Where you live and where you work have a lot to do with whether you smoke and how healthy you are."
For more on smoking, visit the
for Disease Control and Prevention.