Objective: To determine demographic predictors of smoking status amongst novice mine workers.
Setting: Prospective mine workers undergoing fitness examination at the Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases.
Design: Cross sectional study.
Main outcome measures: Current smoking status.
Results: Smoking status is significantly linked to age, race group, nationality and previous employment status. Education is also a predictor of smoking status, but the association is weak. Smoking prevalence in subgroups of novice mine workers varies from less than 10% to nearly 75%.
Conclusion: Assumptions of very high smoking rates amongst all mine workers are too simplistic. Smoking cannot be regarded globally as a major confounder of occupational exposure and occupational lung disease for all groups of mine workers.