Exposure to secondhand smoke and attitudes toward smoke-free workplaces among employed U.S. adults: findings from the National Adult Tobacco Survey

Nicotine Tob Res. 2014 Oct;16(10):1307-18. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntu069. Epub 2014 May 8.


Introduction: This study assessed the prevalence and correlates of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure and attitudes toward smoke-free workplaces among employed U.S. adults.

Methods: Data came from the 2009-2010 National Adult Tobacco Survey, a landline and cellular telephone survey of adults aged ≥18 years in the United States and the District of Columbia. National and state estimates of past 7-day workplace SHS exposure and attitudes toward indoor and outdoor smoke-free workplaces were assessed among employed adults. National estimates were calculated by sex, age, race/ethnicity, education, annual household income, sexual orientation, U.S. region, and smoking status.

Results: Among employed adults who did not smoke cigarettes, 20.4% reported past 7-day SHS exposure at their workplace (state range: 12.4% [Maine] to 30.8% [Nevada]). Nationally, prevalence of exposure was higher among males, those aged 18-44 years, non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic American Indians/Alaska natives compared to non-Hispanic Whites, those with less education and income, those in the western United States, and those with no smoke-free workplace policy. Among all employed adults, 83.8% and 23.2% believed smoking should never be allowed in indoor and outdoor areas of workplaces, respectively.

Conclusions: One-fifth of employed U.S. adult nonsmokers are exposed to SHS in the workplace, and disparities in exposure exist across states and subpopulations. Most employed adults believe indoor areas of workplaces should be smoke free, and nearly one-quarter believe outdoor areas should be smoke free. Efforts to protect employees from SHS exposure and to educate the public about the dangers of SHS and benefits of smoke-free workplaces could be beneficial.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoke-Free Policy*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / psychology*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / prevention & control*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workplace / psychology*
  • Workplace / standards
  • Young Adult


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution