WELLNESS
11/05/2013 11:59 am ET

Laws Curb Workplace Smoke Exposure, But Some Industries Still Face High Risks

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Laws to limit tobacco smoke exposure in the workplace are overall effective, but people in some occupations still face high exposure, according to a new study.

The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, looked at occupational environmental smoke exposure before and after the 2004 Smoke-Free Workplace Law went into effect in Massachusetts. It showed that workplace exposure decreased to 5.4 percent in 2010, from 8 percent in 2003.

However, the study also showed that workers in certain occupations still faced high rates of exposure to secondhand smoke at work. For instance, 37.4 percent of workers in the repair, maintenance and installation industries reported being exposed to tobacco smoke at work. And 22.6 percent of workers in the transportation industries, while 19.8 percent of people in material moving industries reported tobacco smoke exposure at work.

"We're seeing a steady decline in prevalence of exposure, but it's clear that there are still specific groups of workers that deserve our attention. Findings like these that combine information about occupation and environmental tobacco smoke provide helpful information for evaluating comprehensive statewide smoke-free workplace laws and for targeting interventions to reduce risks," study researcher Kathleen Fitzsimmons, MPH, of the Occupational Health Surveillance Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, said in a statement.

In addition, Fitzsimmons and her coauthors found that male, non-white and younger workers were more at risk for tobacco smoke exposure.

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