Hospitality staff are more likely to smoke than workers in any other UK industry, according to data published by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
The new statistics, which were revealed ahead of No Smoking Day next week (11 March), are being used by the BHF to highlight the urgent need for greater intervention from employers to help their workers curb the habit.
Smoking one to four cigarettes a day can triple a person's risk of cardiovascular disease, while the UK workforce smokes 74 million cigarettes on average a day, equating to 12 per smoker, which the BHF said was significantly increasing their risk of a heart attack or stroke.
The water and waste management industry ranked second worst with 29% of workers currently smoking, followed by the construction industry with 28%, while the other industries with the lowest smoking rates included the professional, scientific and technology sectors where around one in eight workers currently smoke.
The average smoker takes more sick leave each year compared to their non-smoking colleagues and around four smoking breaks each day, according to the Cost of Smoking to UK Businesses report, published in 2014, which estimated the financial burden is £8.7b in lost productivity every year.
Lisa Young, project manager for the BHF's Health at Work programme, commented: "No matter what industry you work in, smoking is extremely damaging to your heart health and the health of your business.
"But this research shows there is still a shocking divide between blue and white collar professions when it comes to how many of us are taking up this deadly addiction. Good health is good business. That's why we want all UK employers to help us tackle these inequalities head on by helping their workers kick the habit for good.
"By taking part in No Smoking Day, employers could help their staff take the single biggest step towards a healthier heart whilst reaping the benefits of a stronger, more productive workforce."
Every year nearly a million people attempt to quit by signing up to No Smoking Day.
Smoking just one to four cigarettes a day can triple a person's risk of cardiovascular disease. (2)
Yet the UK workforce puffs through a staggering 74 million cigarettes on average a day - that's 12 per smoker - significantly increasing their risk of a heart attack or stroke. (3)
To sign up to the Health at Work programme and download free No Smoking Day resources, visit the BHF website.