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One in five workers exposed to secondhand smoke on the job


(HealthDay)—One in five nonsmoking workers report exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) at work, according to research published in the July 12 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Chia-ping Su, M.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues used data from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey Occupational Health Supplement to assess the prevalence of self-reported workplace SHS exposure among nonsmoking workers. Exposure was assessed by smoke-free policy status in the workers’ states of residence and by detailed industry categories.

The researchers found that 19.9 percent of nonsmoking workers reported any exposure to SHS at work in the previous 12 months; this included 10.1 percent reporting frequent exposure (at least two times per week). In states with comprehensive smoke-free laws in all three categories of venues (private worksites, bars, and restaurants), nonsmoking workers were least likely to report frequent exposure to workplace SHS. The highest prevalences of workplace SHS exposure (65.1 percent) were reported by nonsmoking workers employed in the commercial and industrial machinery and equipment repair and maintenance industry. The construction industry had the highest reported number of exposed workers (2.9 million), which includes outdoor workplaces and other settings unlikely to be protected by smoke-free laws.

“Identifying specific at-risk workplaces and implementing targeted intervention strategies could help reduce SHS exposure at work and protect workers’ health,” the authors write.

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