Department of Public Health Sciences

Smoking and occupation from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey

McCurdy, S A, J Sunyer, J-P Zock, J M Anto and M Kogevinas

Occup Environ Med. 2003. 60(9):643-8.

BACKGROUND: Smoking is among the most important personal and modifiable risk factors for adverse health outcomes. The workplace offers a potentially effective venue for tobacco prevention programmes; identifying occupational groups with high smoking prevalence may assist in targeting such programmes. AIMS: To examine smoking prevalence among occupational groups in the European Union. METHODS: The European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS), a cross sectional health survey conducted in 1992-93, was used to examine smoking prevalence by occupation among 14 565 subjects from 30 centres in 14 participating countries. RESULTS: There was an approximately twofold range in smoking prevalence by occupation. For occupational groups with at least 50 subjects, the highest smoking prevalence was seen in metal making and treating for men (54.3%) and cleaners for women (50.7%). Increased smoking prevalence by occupation persisted after adjustment for age, country, and age at completion of education. Smoking was also increased among occupations with high exposure to mineral dust and gas or fumes. CONCLUSIONS: Smoking rates vary significantly by occupation. Prevention efforts in the workplace should focus on occupations with high smoking prevalence and large employment bases.

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