One in four workers smoke in Belgium

One in four workers smoke in Belgium
Credit: Belga / Herwig Vergult

A quarter of Belgian workers still smoke, according to a survey by non-profit association for well-being at work Idewe.

The study, conducted among 256,750 workers, found the highest prevalence among workers aged 35 to 44, with 28.3% smoking. However, it highlighted a downward trend in smoking with age: 23.2% among 45-55 and 20.5% in over 55s.

The number of workers who smoke has been steadily declining since 2011, but the trend was notably stagnant this year. The study also found that men smoked significantly more than women (31% compared to 17.8%).

"These results emphasise the need to tackle workplace smoking," stated head of the Knowledge, Information & Research department at Idewe, Sofie Vandenbroeck. She stressed that smoking carries many adverse effects for workers, such as increased health risks, reduced productivity and greater absences. It can also spark conflict at work, as non-smokers often feel that their smoking counterparts take more breaks.

Workers' lack of physical activity is also cause for concern. Nearly seven in ten (69%) do less than the World Health Organisation's (WHO) recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week. Worse still, 59% do less than 90 minutes.

Men slightly outperformed women in this regard (66% less than 150 minutes compared to 73% for women). Alarmingly, 63% of under 25s failed to meet the WHO's standard.

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The study also pointed out that 58% of the workers are overweight and 24.6% have high blood pressure, unchanged from the previous report.

"We are simply not active enough and do not eat healthily. Improving these areas would not only benefit workers' health, but also productivity, morale, absenteeism and workplace atmosphere," said Idewe. Their proposed solutions include walk-and-talk meetings, lunchtime walks, and a group target for number of steps.

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