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Construction Can’t Snuff Out Tobacco

Friday, June 13, 2014

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Smokeless tobacco use remains a rampant and growing problem in the construction industry, even as cigarette smoking declines, new research shows.

The study, conducted by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, analyzed data from about 30,000 working adults in 2005 and 2010.

Use of smokeless tobacco among construction workers increased from 6.4 percent in 2005 to 7.9 percent in 2010, according to the June 6 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Cigarette smoking in the industry decreased from 33.4 percent to 29.5 percent, the report said.

smokeless tobacco construction
Wikimedia Commons

Workers in construction and mining  have some of the highest percentages of smokeless tobacco use.

The mining industry had the highest percentage of smokeless-tobacco users in 2010: a whopping 18.8 percent of workers.

Snus and Snuff

Tobacco trends in construction were also seen in the adult working population at large. Cigarette smoking in that group declined from about 22 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2010, the researchers found.

However, the same time period saw a slight increase in the use of smokeless tobacco products, from 2.7 percent in 2005 to 3 percent in 2010.

The increase may be tied to new products such the smokeless flavored product called snus ("snooze") and candy-flavored dissolvable tobacco, researchers said.

Moreover, the increases seen may even be underestimated, since the CDC's questionnaire didn't include snus and some other products, study author Jacek Mazurek and colleagues told HealthDay News.

CigaretteSmoking
Wikimedia Commons

Cigarette smoking has declined in construction and among other workers, but smokeless tobacco may contain even more nicotine, experts say.

Research has shown that chewing tobacco and snuff aren't safe and may have even more nicotine than cigarettes, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Steps to Stop

"These findings can help health professionals direct assistance to working men and women to stop using smokeless tobacco, a known cause of oral, esophageal and pancreatic cancer," the CDC researchers said.

The CDC suggested several steps employers could take to help reduce tobacco use among employees:

  • Make workplaces tobacco free;
  • Provide employees with information on the health risks of tobacco and the benefits of quitting; and
  • Sponsor workplace-based tobacco cessation services, including employer-sponsored health insurance that covers proven treatments for tobacco use and dependence.

   

Tagged categories: Centers for Disease Control; Construction; Health and safety; NIOSH; Research; Trends; Workers

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