NIOSH report touts smoking cessation programs to improve workers' health
"Cigarette smoking is among the most important modifiable risk factors for adverse health outcomes and a major cause of morbidity and mortality," begins a new report from the National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health. Researchers looked at the rate of smoking among U.S. workers from 2004 through 2010.
Cigarette smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke resulted in $97 billion in productivity losses and $96 billion in health care costs annually from 2000 to 2004. The researchers say smoking also increases the adverse health risks of occupational exposure, and exposure to secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses.
In recent years, the prevalence of cigarette smoking among workers has decreased. However, the researchers say declines in the past five years have slowed and did not meet the Healthy People 2010 objective of less than 12 percent.
Among working adults 18 years of age and older, 19.6 percent are smokers, according to the report. The rate was highest among:
- Those with no health insurance -- 28.6 percent.
- Those with less than a high school education -- 28.4 percent.
- Those living below the federal poverty level -- 27.7 percent.
- Those between the ages of 18 to 24 -- 23.8 percent.
There were substantial differences in smoking rates among industry and occupation groups. By industry, the rate varied from a high of 30 percent in mining to a low of 9.7 percent in education services. By occupation group, the prevalence ranged from 31.4 percent in construction and extraction to 8.7 percent in education, training, and library.
The researchers say that while some progress has been made to reduce smoking among working adults, "additional effective employer interventions need to be implemented, including health insurance coverage for cessation treatments, easily accessible help for those who want to quit, and smoke-free workplace policies."
Several intervention and prevention measures have been shown to reduce smoking prevalence and exposure to secondhand smoke. In addition, the researchers mentioned:
- Individual, group, and telephone-based smoking cessation counseling.
- Cessation medications.
- Tailored print or Web-based cessation materials.
"These proven effective interventions should be strengthened, specifically in workplaces with higher smoking prevalences," the report says. "Employers should ensure that effective tobacco dependence treatments are a part of the basic benefits package for all health insurance plans that cover their employees."
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
November 3, 2011
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