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About 20% of workers are exposed to secondhand smoke on the job: CDC

Photo: kali9/iStockphoto

Washington — Nearly 1 out of 5 workers are exposed to secondhand smoke on the job, results of a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show.

Analyzing data from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey Occupational Health Supplement to determine the prevalence of self-reported workplace exposures, researchers found that 19.9% of nonsmoking workers said they encountered secondhand smoke at work during the 12 months preceding the interview. Additionally, 10.1% reported frequent exposure (at least twice a week).

Workers in the commercial and industrial machinery and equipment repair and maintenance industry reported the highest prevalence of any exposure (65.1%), followed by “other transportation” – including air, rail, pipeline, and scenic and sightseeing transportation – at 55.8%, and forestry and logging, at 52.9%. Meanwhile, the construction industry had the highest number of workers (2.9 million) exposed to secondhand smoke.

“Nonsmoking workers residing in states without comprehensive smoke-free laws and workers employed in certain industries were more likely to be frequently exposed to workplace SHS,” the study states. “Industry subcategories with the highest prevalences of SHS exposure, and the industry category with the highest number of exposed workers (construction), include outdoor workplaces and other settings unlikely to be protected by smoke-free laws.”


From 2014 to 2016, 34.3% of construction workers, 30.4% of workers in mining and 30.2% of transportation industry employees reported use of some form of tobacco, the report states.

CDC recommends implementing workplace smoke-free policies to reduce worker exposure to secondhand smoke.

The study was published online July 12 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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