Too many U.S. workers are being exposed to dangerous secondhand tobacco smoke on the job, according to a new study
Nearly one in five workers in the United States is exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke on the job, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study found the construction industry had the highest number of workers suffering secondhand smoke exposure on the job with 2.9 million, according to the National Safety Council. The National Safety Council is a nonprofit that works to eliminate preventable deaths.
Information about secondhand smoke exposure on the job was pulled from a broader study, the 2015 National Health Interview Survey Occupational Health Supplement.
That survey was done to determine the prevalence of self-reported workplace exposures, which, in addition to secondhand smoke, include frequent lifting, pushing, pulling or bending and frequent standing or walking.
Dangers of secondhand smoke on the job
Secondhand tobacco smoke exposure contributes to ill health and disease, including heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Cigarette smoking has declined among U.S. workers and the establishment of smoke-free laws has helped but workplace exposure to secondhand smoke remains high, particularly among workers in certain industries, such as construction.
In 2015, nearly 20 percent of nonsmokers told study interviewers they had experienced some exposure to secondhand smoke at work in the 12 months preceding the interview. Over 10 percent of workers reported frequent secondhand smoke exposure, defined as twice a week or more, on the job.
Nonsmoking workers who live in states with comprehensive smoke-free laws in all three of the categories of work venues that were studied — private worksites, bars, and restaurants — were least likely to report frequent secondhand smoke exposure on the job.
Workplace smoke-free policies recommended
Mississippi is among states that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said have lighter smoking laws than other states. That means smoking is allowed in these states in designated areas or areas with separate ventilation.
Other states that share Mississippi’s comparatively less restrictive smoking laws are Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
Examples of the states that require that private worksites, bars, and restaurants to all be 100 percent smoke-free include Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon and Wisconsin.
Other findings from the study about secondhand smoke exposure on the job, specifically regarding the construction industry, include the following:
- Of the 10.2 million construction workers interviewed, over 35 percent used some form of tobacco, and over 24 percent were cigarette smokers
- Over 8 percent of construction workers said they were cigar, cigarillo, pipe or hookah smokers
- Nearly 8 percent used smokeless tobacco
- 7.6 percent used more than one tobacco product
- Construction workers had higher odds of tobacco use than non-construction workers.
From 2014-2016, the following percentages of workers in certain fields reported using some form of tobacco: over 34 percent of construction workers; over 30 percent of miners; and over 30 percent of those who work in transportation.
“Workplace tobacco control strategies could reduce tobacco use among this population,” the study said.
Effective tobacco control steps include price increases, anti-tobacco mass media campaigns, and comprehensive smoke-free policies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Contact Tabor Law Firm Of Mississippi today for help with cases about secondhand smoke exposure on the job and for help with workers’ compensation and on-the-job injuries.