Variations in education among the people in these jobs explain some of these differences, Malarcher said.
Younger workers are also more likely to be smokers, the researches found. However, older workers are less likely to smoke. Among those aged 65 and older, a little more than 10 percent were smokers. In addition, smoking was highest among men, whites and those who did not graduate from high school, the researchers noted.
"Well, there is good news and bad news," said Dr. Norman H. Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. "On the one hand, overall smoking rates are still declining; on the other hand, the rates of decline are less than what we wished for."
The hardest to reach are young men who are poor, not well-educated and employed in jobs involving physical labor, Edelman said.
"It seems clear that we need better strategies to reach these people with smoking cessation programs. A good way to start would be prohibition of smoking in their workplaces, which has been shown to reduce smoking rates," he said.
Danny McGoldrick, research director at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said that employers can do a lot to help their workers quit smoking.
"We know that if you work in a place that's smoke-free and you work in a place that offers help in quitting smoking, you are less likely to smoke," he said. "Where you live and where you work have a lot to do with whether you smoke and how healthy you are."
For more on smoking, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Ann M. Malarcher, Ph.D., senior scientific adviser, Office on Smoking and Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Norman H. Edelman, M.D., professor, preventive and internal
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