Presentation W P14

W P14 (Poster Presentation):
Joint associations of smoking and physical activity with disability retirement

Presented by: Tea Marika Lallukka


Lallukka T1,2, Rahkonen O2, Lahelma E2, Lahti J2

  1. Centre of Expertise for Health and Work Ability & Disability Prevention Centre, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
  2. Hjelt Institute, Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland



Smoking and physical inactivity are linked to work disability, but their joint associations have been little studied. We examined the joint associations of smoking and physical activity with disability retirement.


Survey data collected in 2000-2002 among 40-60-year-old employees of the City of Helsinki, Finland were prospectively linked with register data on all-cause disability retirement outcome from the Finnish Centre of Pensions (n=6268, response rate 67%). Smoking intensity and leisure-time physical activities were self-reported at baseline. Gender, age, socioeconomic position, mental and physical strenuousness of work, problem drinking, body mass index, and mental and physical health functioning were adjusted for as covariates. Cox regression models were fitted (hazard ratios, HR, 95% CI), and the follow-up time continued until the end of 2010. No gender interactions were found.


Altogether 596 employees retired due to disability during the follow-up (9.5%). No excess risk of disability retirement was observed among ex-smokers and moderate smokers with vigorous physical activity, while ex-smokers and moderate smokers who were inactive or only moderately active at leisure-time had an equally increased risk of disability retirement. Instead, all heavy smokers had an increased risk of disability retirement irrespective of their level of physical activity, but the associations were stronger among moderately active (HR 4.39, 95% CI=3.00-6.43) and inactive heavy smokers (HR 4.09, 95% CI=2.73-6.13). Also moderately active and inactive non-smokers had a higher risk of disability retirement, as compared to non-smokers with vigorous physical activity. Adjustments for covariates made mainly minor contribution to the associations, except poor physical functioning attenuated the associations. Heavy smoking remained associated with disability retirement in all physical activity groups after full adjustments.


Level of physical activity affects the risk of disability retirement both among smokers and non-smokers. Among ex-smokers and moderate smokers, vigorous physical activity might help prevent work disability, while among heavy smokers physical activity is likely not sufficient to counteract the adverse effects of intense smoking on health and work ability.

Schedule Details

Wednesday October 1
13:00 - 14:00 Poster Viewing
Session: Varia