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Public Health Rep. 2010 Mar-Apr;125(2):225-33.

The association of workplace hazards and smoking in a U.S. multiethnic working-class population.

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Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Program, University of California San Francisco and Berkeley, San Francisco, CA 94709-0844, USA.



We investigated the extent to which smoking status was associated with exposure to occupational (e.g., dust, chemicals, noise, and ergonomic strain) and social (e.g., abuse, sexual harassment, and racial discrimination) workplace hazards in a sample of U.S. multiethnic working-class adults.


United for Health is a cross-sectional study designed to investigate the combined burden of occupational and social workplace hazards in relation to race/ethnicity, gender, and wage and to evaluate related health effects in a working-class population. Using validated measures, we collected data from 1,282 multiethnic working-class participants using audio computer-assisted interviews. We used multiple imputation methods to impute data for those missing data. Crude and adjusted logistic odds ratios (ORs) were modeled to estimate ORs and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).


The prevalence of smoking was highest among non-Hispanic white workers (38.3%) and lowest for foreign-born workers (13.1%). We found an association between racial discrimination and smoking (OR = 1.12, 95% CI 1.01, 1.25). The relationship between smoking and sexual harassment, although not significant, was different for black women compared with men (OR = 1.79, 95% CI 0.99, 3.22). We did not find any associations by workplace abuse or by any of the occupational hazards.


These results indicate that racial discrimination might be related to smoking in working-class populations and should be considered in tobacco-control efforts that target this high-risk population.

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