Industries with highest smoking rates revealed

6 March 2015        

cigarettes in an ashtray

Accommodation and food service workers are more likely to smoke than workers in any other UK industry, according to new statistics we've released ahead of No Smoking Day on 11 March. 

Research has shown that smoking just one to four cigarettes a day can triple a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Quitting smoking is the single best thing people can do to improve their heart health. 

Yet the UK workforce puffs through a staggering 74 million cigarettes on average a day – that’s 12 per smoker – significantly increasing their risk of a heart attack or stroke

We have released new statistics based on the latest official data, ranking the UK industries with the highest smoking rates. The research highlights the urgent need for greater intervention from employers to help workers quit for good. 

The accommodation and food service industry came out worst where almost a third (31%) of workers smoke – almost three times the level in the education sector (11%) which ranked best. 

The water and waste management industry ranked second worst with 29% of workers currently smoking, followed by the construction industry with 28% - significantly higher than the national smoking rate of 19%. 

The other industries with the lowest smoking rates included the professional, scientific and technology sectors where around one in eight workers currently smoke. 

Help your workers quit

Previous research shows the average smoker takes more sick leave and working breaks compared to their non-smoking colleagues. This demonstrates the serious toll smoking has people’s heart health and costs UK businesses an estimated £8.7 billion in lost productivity every year. 

Our Health at Work programme offers free expert advice to over 10,000 members on how to create a healthier workforce. We're calling on all UK employers to help their workers quit by joining its Health at Work programme and holding No Smoking Day events on 11th March. 

Lisa Young, Project Manager for our Health at Work programme, said: “No matter what industry you work in, smoking is extremely damaging to your heart health and the health of your business. “But this research shows there is still a shocking divide between blue and white collar professions when it comes to how many of us are taking up this deadly addiction. 

“Good health is good business. That’s why we want all UK employers to help us tackle these inequalities head on by helping their workers kick the habit for good. “By taking part in No Smoking Day, employers could help their staff take the single biggest step towards a healthier heart whilst reaping the benefits of a stronger, more productive workforce.” 

Sign up to No Smoking Day

Every year nearly a million people attempt to quit by signing up to No Smoking Day. 

Sign up to our Health at Work programme and download free No Smoking Day resources.

Sign up