Tobacco in the Workplace
Although the proportion of workers who smoke tobacco or who are exposed to secondhand smoke in the workplace has declined over the past several decades, many workers remain susceptible to the harms of tobacco smoking.
The percentage of workers who smoke cigarettes varies by industry and occupation. The highest percentages of workers who smoke are in mining (30%), accommodation and food services (30%), and construction (29.7%) industries.1 Similarly, smokeless tobacco use is relatively frequent among workers in the mining (18.8%), wholesale trade (8.9%), and construction (7.9%) industries.2
The use of emerging tobacco products, including hookah and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) or e-cigarettes, has increased in recent years. Despite the increased use of e-cigarettes and marketing of these products, little is known about long term health effects. In 2014, an estimated 5.5 million working adults were current e-cigarette users.3 Many states have laws to prohibit smoking and tobacco use in the workplace. Employers can also enact policies that restrict smoking and tobacco use in the workplace. NIOSH provides recommendations and resources that protect workers from the hazards of using tobacco, that help employers prevent workplace exposures to secondhand smoke, and that promote the overall well-being of workers.
Tobacco policies and programs can serve as a starting point for keeping workers safe from the risks of tobacco.
The long-term health effects of e-cigarettes is unknown. Learn about possible risks.
Smokeless tobacco contains nicotine, which is highly addictive, and some products may contain cancer-causing chemicals.
The Surgeon General's most recent report on tobacco smoke and health provides the latest findings from 50 years ago to today.
Check out these pubs and resources for more on tobacco use and worker safety from NIOSH and other agencies and organizations.
Syamlal G, Mazurek J, Malarcher A . Current cigarette smoking prevalence among working adults – United States, 2004-2010. J Am Med Assoc; 306(10): 2086-2091.
Mazurek J, Syamlal G, King B, Castellan R . Smokeless tobacco use among working adults – United States, 2005-2010. MMWR; 62(22): 477-482.
Syamlal G, Jamal A, King B, Mazurek J . Electronic cigarette use among working adults – United States, 2014. MMWR; 65(22): 557-561.