Population-level estimates of workplace exposure to secondhand smoke in Canada

Abstract

Objectives

Secondhand smoke (SHS) is a known lung carcinogen that is also associated with cardiovascular disease and premature death. An important source of exposure to SHS is the workplace. In the past, efforts have been made to reduce workplace SHS exposure across Canada, with corresponding benefits to public health. This study estimated the number of workers exposed to SHS in Canada in 2006 and 2016 and their level of exposure.

Methods

The proportion of workers exposed to SHS and the proportion of workers reporting specific workplace smoking restrictions by occupation and province, acquired from the 2007–2009 and 2010–2012 Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Surveys, were applied to 2006 and 2016 Canadian census data to estimate population-level exposure. Workers were assigned to exposure levels (possible, moderate, high) using workplace smoking restrictions. Only moderately and highly exposed workers were considered exposed.

Results

The number of exposed workers decreased by 20% from 520,000 in 2006 to 418,000 in 2016. Workers were equally split between moderate and high exposure groups. Trades, transport and equipment operators, and workers in primary industry had the highest rates of overall exposure. The proportion of workers exposed varied by province, with the lowest rates in Ontario (approximately 2% in both years), and the highest in Saskatchewan in 2006 (6%) and Newfoundland in 2016 (4%).

Conclusion

Workplace SHS exposure persists. The findings can help prioritize high-risk groups for interventions and inform studies of the burden of occupational disease. Further characterization of exposure is needed to better inform enforcement and prevention.

Résumé

Objectifs

La fumée secondaire estune cancérogène pulmonaire connue, également associé aux maladies cardiovasculaires et à la mort prématurée. Le lieu de travail estune source importante d'exposition à la fumée secondaire. Au passé, des efforts ont été déployés pour réduire l'exposition de la fumée secondaire en milieu de travail partout au Canada, avec des avantages correspondants pour la santé publique. Cette étude a permis d'estimer le nombre de travailleurs exposés à la fumée secondaire au Canada entre 2006 et 2016 et leur niveau d'exposition.

Méthodes

La proportion de travailleurs exposés à la fumée secondaire et la proportion de travailleurs déclarant des restrictions spécifiques au tabagisme en milieu de travail par profession et par province, tirés des enquêtes de surveillance de l'usage du tabac au Canada entre 2007-2009 et 2010-2012, ont été appliqués aux données du recensement Canadien de 2006 et 2016 pour estimer l'exposition au niveau de la population. Les travailleurs ont été exposés à des niveaux d’exposition (possible, modéré, élevé) en appliquant des restrictions relatives au tabagisme sur le lieu de travail. Seuls les travailleurs moyennement et fortement exposés ont été considérés comme exposés.

Résultats

Le nombre de travailleurs exposés a diminué de 20 %, passant de 520 000 en 2006 à 418 000 en 2016. Les travailleurs étaient également répartis entre les groupes d'exposition modérée et élevée. Les opérateurs, les opérateurs de transport et d'équipement et les travailleurs du secteur primaire affichaient les taux d'exposition le plus élevés. La proportion de travailleurs exposés variait d'une province à l'autre, les taux les plus bas étant observés en Ontario (environ 2 % les deux années) et les plus élevés en Saskatchewan en 2006 (6 %) et à Terre-Neuve en 2016 (4 %).

Conclusion

L'exposition à la fumée secondaire sur les lieux de travail persiste. Les résultats peuvent aider à hiérarchiser les interventions pour les groupes à haut risque et orienter des études sur le fardeau des maladies professionnelles. Une caractérisation plus poussée de l'exposition est nécessaire pour mieux informer sur l'application et la prévention.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge Pamela Kaufman, who reviewed and provided feedback on the preliminary methods.

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Correspondence to Ela Rydz.

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Rydz, E., Arrandale, V.H. & Peters, C.E. Population-level estimates of workplace exposure to secondhand smoke in Canada. Can J Public Health 111, 125–133 (2020). https://doi.org/10.17269/s41997-019-00252-x

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Keywords

  • Occupational exposure
  • Secondhand smoke
  • Lung cancer
  • Primary prevention

Mots-clés

  • Exposition professionnelle
  • Fumée secondaire
  • Cancer du poumon
  • Prévention primaire