While cigarette smoking among U.S. workers continues to decline, the use of smokeless tobacco – particularly among those who do certain types of jobs – remains steady.
That finding, reported recently by the health experts, is based on a review of five years of data.
Researchers said cigarette smoking among working adults decreased from about 22 percent in 2005 to 19 percent in 2010. The use of smokeless tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco and snuff inched up slightly -- from 2.7 percent in 2005 to 3 percent in 2010.
Mining industry workers heavy users
In which fields is smokeless tobacco most popular among employees? Construction and mining topped the list (about 19 percent of mining workers use smokeless tobacco).
Oil and gas extraction workers weren’t far behind, at 11 percent, according to the CDC, which called on employers to try to snuff out all forms of tobacco use.
"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 researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
The report’s authors speculated that new, heavily marketed smokeless tobacco products such as snus (finely ground moist snuff) and candy-flavored dissolvable tobacco might contribute to the consisten popularity of smokeless tobacco However, snus and some other products weren't included in the questionnaire so it's possible smokeless tobacco use is underestimated, study author Dr. Jacek Mazurek, of the division of respiratory disease studies, and colleagues noted.
Highly addictive in any form
Chewing tobacco and snuff aren't safe, research has shown. These products may contain more nicotine than cigarettes, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Nicotine is highly addictive, which is why it's so hard to quit smoking.
The percentage of cigarette smokers who also use smokeless tobacco was relatively unchanged during the study period -- about 4 percent, the researchers said.
The CDC recommends that employers make workplaces tobacco-free and offer workers information on the health risks of tobacco and the benefits of. They can also provide work-based tobacco-cessation services, including health insurance that covers treatment for tobacco dependence.
SOURCE: June 6, 2014, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report