CDC Releases Data On Smoking Rates By Occupation

CigarettesThe latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released by the CDC contained some interesting data on the prevalence of smoking across different occupational groups.

The prevalence estimates were based on data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) 2004-2010 which involved a combined 113,226 participants. Researchers found huge differences in smoking rates across various occupational groups with rates as high as 31.4% and as low as 8.7%.

The occupational groups with the highest smoking prevalences were construction and extraction, food preparation and serving, and transportation and material moving, all of which had prevalence rates around 50% higher than the national average.

In general, blue-collar occupations tended to have higher smoking prevalence rates than white-collar occupations.

The table below shows the occupational groups with the highest smoking prevalence rates.

Occupational Group Smoking Prevalence
 Construction and extraction  31.4%
 Food preparation and serving related  30.0%
 Transportation and material moving  28.7%
 Installation, maintenance, and repair  27.2%
 Production  26.1%
 Health-care support  23.7%
 Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance  22.9%
 Sales and related  20.7%

In contrast, the occupational groups with the lowest smoking rates were legal (9.4%), life, physical, and social science (9.2%), and education, training, and library (8.9%).

Some other interesting findings from the CDC study were:

  • Smoking rates were higher in men (21.5%) than women (17.4%).
  • Caucasians (21.5%) were more likely to smoke than Blacks (15.8%) or Hispanics (19.3%).
  • Highly educated people were much less likely to smoke than those with little formal education. High school drop-outs had smoking rates of 28.4% while those with a bachelors, masters, or higher degree had smoking rates of 9.1%.
  • Those who were classified as poor had a smoking rate of 27.7% compared to 18.1% for those not classified as poor.
  • Those without health insurance were almost twice as likely to smoke as those with health insurance (28.6% vs 17.5%).
  • Smoking rates in older people tend to be lower than in younger people. The study found a smoking prevalence rate of 23.8% in those aged 18-24 while the prevalence rate was just 10.2% in those aged 65 and over.

Although smoking rates have declined by more than 40% since the early 1960s, the rate of decline has slowed in recent years. As of 2010, 19.3% of adult are current smokers compared to 20.9% in 2005 which corresponds to a drop in smoking prevalence of 7.7% over the past 5 years. The US government’s Healthy People 2020 initiative, set a target of 12% or less for smoking prevalence rates however the CDC data shows that only 6 of the 23 occupational groups currently have rates below this level.

The full CDC report is available here.