March 11, 2021

CDC: E-Cigarette Use High Among Certain Industries, Occupations

E-cigarette use was highest among workers in the accommodation and food services industry and those in food preparation and serving-related occupations, according to a CDC assessment published in the March 5, 2021, issue of the organization’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The new report examines the prevalence of electronic cigarette use among U.S. workers using data from the 2017–2018 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) for adults aged 18 years or older who were employed during the week before they were interviewed.

CDC estimated that 5.3 million U.S. workers, or 3.4 percent of an estimated 156 million total U.S. workers, were current users of e-cigarettes, devices that heat liquids to produce aerosols containing nicotine, flavors, and other chemicals for inhalation by the user. Current e-cigarette users were defined as adults who reported themselves as using e-cigarettes daily or on some days at the time they were surveyed. From the NHIS data, CDC found that current e-cigarette use was most prevalent among males, non-Hispanic whites, those aged 18–24, those with a high school education or less, those with family incomes of less than $35,000, those without health insurance, those reporting poor or fair physical health, and those who also used other tobacco products.

Accommodation and food services was the industry with the highest prevalence of current e-cigarette use; workers in food preparation and serving-related occupations comprised the highest percentage of current e-cigarette users. CDC also found that e-cigarette use had increased in food preparation and services and in other industries such as public administration and transportation since a previous NHIS survey that covered 2014–2015. CDC’s report posits that this increase in e-cigarette use might be attributed these industries having younger workforces as well as less stringent workplace tobacco policies, fewer cessation programs, and varying workplace cultures around tobacco use. Most current e-cigarette users reported nondaily use, but the wholesale trade industry and production occupations had the highest rates of daily e-cigarette users.

Previous findings have indicated that many people start using e-cigarettes in an attempt to quit smoking. Accordingly, CDC assessed survey respondents according to their current or former use of cigarettes and other tobacco products. CDC found that about one-half of current e-cigarette users also used combustible tobacco products at the time of the NHIS survey. Workers in industries that included repair and maintenance, private household, and laundry services, and those in transportation and moving occupations, reported the highest prevalence of combined use of e-cigarettes and combustible tobacco products.

According to the report’s authors, their findings “underscore the importance of continued surveillance of all forms of tobacco products use and the implementation of proven strategies to prevent and reduce tobacco product use among working adults.”

“To maximize the health of workers, employers can integrate comprehensive and effective tobacco cessation programs into health promotion programs,” the MMWR concludes.

Related: Read “Electronic Cigarettes and the IH” in the May 2019 issue of The Synergist.