Electricians are more likely to smoke than the average citizen, but their job also exposes them to risk that adds to those of smoking and makes health problems more likely. This is one of the many reasons getting electricians to stop smoking should be a priority.
Smoking impacts every occupation and every part of society, but smoking rates aren’t evenly spread across professions. Finding out which groups of workers are most affected by the risks of smoking is crucial to being able to target prevention campaigns and support quit attempts where they’re needed the most. The damage done by smoking is bad enough on its own, but many workers are also exposed to carcinogenic and toxic substances as part of their job, and when combined with smoking this type of exposure increases risks even further. These points are why the connection between electricians and smoking is particularly concerning.
Smoking Rates Among Electricians
To understand the scope of the problem with smoking and electricians, evidence on how many of them are likely to smoke is invaluable. The CDC looked at data from 2004 to 2010, and this provides the best evidence we have for smoking rates in many specific occupations. According to the data, people working in construction and extraction professions have a smoking rate of 31.4%, which makes them the occupational group with the highest smoking rate.
This statistic includes electricians, but also includes supervisors of related occupations, and many other occupations that fall under the banner of construction and extraction, such as plumbers. This means that the smoking rate doesn’t specifically address electricians, but gives us a general idea of the scope of the issue. It could be that electricians smoke at slightly higher rates, but they could also smoke at slightly lower rates.
Electricians and Smoking: Adding to Risks of the Job
Smoking rates among electricians are high, but this is all the more concerning because electricians are already exposed to harmful chemicals at work. According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, electricians may be exposed to asbestos, which poses a risk for cancer but was widely used as insulation until the end of the 20th century. While asbestos is no longer used, electricians working on older homes could be exposed, and the risks of cancer from this add to those from smoking.
Electricians can also be exposed to other harmful chemicals on-the-job, such as lead, a toxic metal also found in cigarette smoke. This means that electricians are likely to have a higher lead exposure than most of the population, and electricians who smoke are increasing this even further. Other chemicals used as part of solvents, solder and other materials also pose a hazard to electricians.
Why Do Electricians Smoke?
Electricians smoke for the same reasons most people who smoke do. Things like depression and stress can lead to smoking, but like most smokers, electricians who smoke are likely to have started as teenagers and just been unable to or unwilling to quit.
However, due to the nature of their job, stress is a particularly important factor when considering why electricians smoke. Electricians have a stressful, often noisy working environment anyway, but they also often work for long days or have unpredictable schedules, both of which add yet more stress.
Not only is stress relief a reason many people smoke in the first place, being stressed also makes it harder to quit, so it’s likely to be a very relevant factor for the link between electricians and smoking.
Helping Electricians Quit Smoking
It’s clear that electricians who smoke should make quitting a priority, and the need is more urgent for electricians because of the existing risks of their job. On the whole, there is no difference between approaches to smoking cessation useful for electricians and those suitable for people in other jobs. Medications like Zyban and Chantix or various nicotine-containing products – like patches, gums, inhalers, electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco – can all increase your chance of successfully quitting.
However, the key role stress plays in the link between electricians and smoking means that another intervention may be particularly useful: behavioral counseling. This focuses on the psychological factors that keep you smoking, and one of the issues that counselors are adept at helping with is stress. People attending smoking cessation counseling will be taught stress management techniques and handy tips to deal with on-the-job stress, cravings and more.
Using an alternative nicotine product doesn’t help you cope with stress more effectively, but it allows you to keep using nicotine for stress relief in a safer way. This isn’t ideal, but since the problem with electricians and smoking is widespread and serious, it’s definitely worth considering as a strategy. The long-term goal should be becoming nicotine free, but reducing harm is really the priority.
Overall, the link between electricians and smoking may be more serious than for other professions, but there are still numerous effective approaches that can help more of them become smoke-free.