Food workers most likely to smoke
People who work in the food service and accommodation industries are more likely to smoke than other workers in the UK, with almost a third (31%) admitting to being smokers, research has revealed.
Those with jobs in water and waste management ranked second, with 29% of workers currently smoking, followed by the construction industry with 28%.
This is significantly higher than the national UK smoking rate of 19%. The industry with the lowest level of smokers was in education, where just 11% said they smoked, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
The charity, which is releasing the figures ahead of No Smoking Day on March 11, said the UK workforce puffs through an average 74 million cigarettes on a day - or 12 per smoker.
It warned that smoking just one to four cigarettes a day can triple a person's risk of cardiovascular disease and quitting is the single best thing people can do to improve their heart health.
Previous research shows the average smoker takes more sick leave and working breaks compared to non-smoking colleagues, costing UK businesses an estimated £8.7 billion in lost productivity every year.
The BHF's Health at Work programme offers advice on how to create a healthier workforce and is calling on employers to help their workers quit by joining and holding No Smoking Day events.
Lisa Young, project manager for the 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."