Smoking and Mail Delivery: Why Mailmen and Mailwomen Should Quit Smoking

Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the world, and it makes doing physical work a lot harder. Mail and parcel delivery workers have a physically demanding job, and if you smoke, you’re making your day-to-day life much harder than it needs to be.

Whether you’re walking for miles through suburbs and city streets or putting in long hours on the road on the way to your next delivery, working as a mail or parcel delivery professional means long and sometimes grueling days. Despite the physical demands of the job, smoking among mail delivery workers remains a problem, and this undoubtedly makes their daily life even more difficult. For those driving for long periods of time, the temptation to smoke might be harder to ignore, but when it comes to picking up and moving heavy packages, you’ll wish you stayed smoke-free.

Smoking Rates Among Mail and Parcel Delivery Workers

Although very few studies look at smoking rates for specific occupations, a CDC investigation into smoking rates in different occupations from 2004 to 2010 gives some indication of the scale of the problem of smoking among mail and parcel delivery workers. The industry group of transportation and warehousing (including postal workers, couriers, transportation workers and warehousing and storage staff) had a smoking rate of 24.3%. This is higher than the smoking rate in the U.S. overall, and is actually the fifth highest rate out of all industries covered by the study.

The only limitation to using this data to find out how many mailmen and mailwomen smoke is the inclusion of a few other job roles. However, on the whole it’s still enough to indicate that smoking is likely to be a significant issue among mail and parcel delivery workers, even if the rates aren’t quite this high for them specifically.

The Risks of Smoking

According to the CDC, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.. Smoking increases your risk of lung cancer by between 25 and 26 times (closer to 26 times for women), increases your risk of coronary heart disease or stroke by 2 to 4 times, and makes you 12 to 13 times more likely to die from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Even if these were the only risks of smoking, it would be abundantly clear that quitting smoking should be a priority to protect your health. However, this only scratches the surface of the damage done by smoking. It can also worsen asthma or trigger an attack, damages the blood vessels, can cause strokes, causes type 2 diabetes, reduces fertility in both men and women, increases the risks to your baby when you’re pregnant, and can cause cancer in most places in the body.

Smoking and Fitness: The Challenge of Physical Activity as a Smoker

Although the reasons given above are more than enough justification to quit smoking for mail and parcel delivery workers, one downside of smoking is more directly relevant to the job. In general, smoking decreases your ability to exercise and means you’ll get tired more quickly.

One of the reasons for this is the carbon monoxide content of cigarette smoke. Carbon monoxide binds to the hemoglobin in your red blood cells, which is designed to carry oxygen to your muscles. By displacing oxygen, it causes serious problems for physical activity in smokers. Additionally, smoking narrows your blood vessels, which again impedes the transport of oxygen to your muscles.

These effects of smoking mean that anybody with a physically demanding job will struggle more as a smoker than they would as a non-smoker. For smoking and mail delivery workers, this is yet another reason to try to quit. It might not be the most physically demanding job you can have, but prolonged periods of walking or heavy lifting will be more difficult as a smoker than it would be as a non-smoker.

Helping Mail and Parcel Delivery Workers Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is the only way to reduce the associated risks and regain your ability to do physical exercise. There are many different approaches to quitting smoking, and although some are more effective than others, any of these are better than attempting to quit “cold turkey” (without any support). Mail and parcel delivery workers can quit smoking using medications like Chantix or Zyban, nicotine replacement therapies like patches and gums, or alternative nicotine-containing products like e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco.

If you want to absolutely minimize your health risks, you should aim to stop using any nicotine products. However, not everybody wants to do this, and not everybody who tries is successful. Although it isn’t ideal, in these cases, it’s better to use nicotine replacement therapies, e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco long-term than to continue smoking.

Regardless of the approach you use, mail and parcel delivery workers should take every step they can to stop smoking and protect themselves from the abundant risks.