Setting a good example? Smoking amongst key occupational groups

January 18, 2012, University of Otago

(Medical Xpress) -- A new study published by researchers from University of Otago, Wellington has found that smoking rates have declined rapidly amongst many occupational groups over the last 25 years.

However, among some key ‘role model’ occupations smoking rates remain high. The researchers suggest that targeted support to help them give up smoking should be considered.

The research from the ASPIRE 2025 research collaboration has been published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. It describes smoking prevalence by , which may be role models in society, using data from the 1981 and 2006 censuses.

The five ‘role model’ occupational categories cover a range of 32 different jobs: teachers, uniformed services, health professionals, entertainers and sports people, and other public figures and professions.

“The aim was to look within five occupational categories which act as role models for children and others, compare smoking rates with the average for all occupations in NZ, and rates of decline across the occupational groups,” says lead researcher and director of ASPIRE 2025, Professor Richard Edwards.

Smoking rates in 2006 ranged from over 45% for kohanga reo teachers to under 4% for doctors. For most of the ‘’ occupations, including many health professionals and over 60,000 primary and secondary teachers, the researchers found that around 10% or less now smoke – far below the national average of 22% in 2006 for all employed people.

Others such as prison officers (28%), nurse aides (27%), the armed forces (25%), social workers (23%), hospital orderlies and ambulance officers (24%), professional sportspeople (21%), teacher aides (21%), and actors, dancers and singers (20%) had smoking rates close to or above the national average.

“One of the possible reasons for higher than average smoking rates is the influence of socio-economic factors, as lower income jobs within the same occupational categories tend to have the highest smoking prevalence,” Professor Edwards says.

However, most of the occupational groups showed marked declines in smoking prevalence between 1981 and 2006. For example, , the uniformed services and sports and entertainment occupations more than halved their smoking rate over that period.

Maori had significantly lower declines in smoking rates for all five occupational groups compared to non-Maori. Maori teachers (25% smoking prevalence in 2006) had a relative reduction in smoking rates of 21% compared to 51% for non-Maori teachers (9% smoking prevalence in 2006).

“There’s been a major decline in smoking in many health jobs, as well as for most teachers, lecturers, ministers of religion and lawyers, where prevalence has reduced to less than 10%, compared to a national average of 21.7%. So it can be done,” says Professor Edwards.

He noted that whilst overall the picture is very positive some of the results are concerning, and further research would be useful to determine the reasons for the persistence of smoking in certain occupations, particularly in relation to Maori.

“Very high rates of smoking amongst kohanga reo is of particular concern. It suggests that support to help smokers to quit should be targeted at occupational groups that have high and who may influence children, young adults and smokers – for example through their position of authority or high visibility in the community. Addressing smoking among key occupations will be an important factor to achieve the government’s goal of reducing to near zero by 2025.”

Explore further: Children from lower-socioeconomic area more likely to be exposed to smoke in cars

Related Stories

Children from lower-socioeconomic area more likely to be exposed to smoke in cars

December 8, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Children from a lower socio-economic area in Wellington, Wainuiomata, are 11 times more likely to be exposed to cigarette smoking in cars than in the wealthier suburb of Karori, according to recent research.

Obesity is a killer in nonsmoking women

June 29, 2011
Obesity is an important contributor to premature death in women who have never smoked, especially among women in low income groups, finds research published in the British Medical Journal today.

Stopping smoking boosts everyday memory

September 25, 2011
Giving up smoking isn’t just good for your health, it’s also good for your memory, according to research from Northumbria University.

Recommended for you

Number of older people with four or more diseases will double by 2035, say researchers

January 23, 2018
A study published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, reports that the number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. A third ...

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.