Hiring a smoker costs bosses $6,000 a year
A new study says employee tobacco use can lead to absenteeism, lost productivity, smoking breaks and health care expenditures.
A decade ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control estimated cigarette smoking was responsible for $193 billion in annual, health-related economic losses in America -- about $96 billion in direct medical costs and an additional $97 billion in lost productivity.
Now a new study has broken down the yearly costs associated with hiring a smoker compared with a nonsmoker. According to researchers at Ohio State University, U.S. businesses pay an additional $6,000 or so annually per smoker due to factors like absenteeism, lost productivity, smoking breaks and health care costs.
Smoking breaks are reportedly the biggest cost, accounting for nearly $3,100 per employee annually.
"When people are taking smoke breaks, that actually adds up to a decent amount of cost to the employer," Micah Berman, the study's lead author and an assistant professor of health services management and public policy, told The Columbus Dispatch.
And there are also on-the-job costs. "Even if (smokers) are at work, they're essentially going through nicotine withdrawal," Berman said. "It actually causes a measurable reduction in productivity."
The study's press statement says the research focuses solely on economics -- and doesn't look at any ethical and privacy issues related to workplace smoking policies.
But it also notes more businesses are adopting "tobacco-related policies that include requiring smokers to pay premium surcharges for their health-care benefits or simply refusing to hire people who identify themselves as smokers."
One such company, Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG), doesn't hire smokers in Ohio -- and company spokesman Lance Latham says the number of its smoking employees has dropped from 30% to around 5% since the ban went in place.
"Overall, our health care cost increases and premium increases have trended below the national average," Latham said in an interview with The Columbus Dispatch. "We think that’s a combination of our tobacco and wellness policies."
At the same time, the researchers acknowledge that providing smoking-cessation programs can amount to an additional cost for employers.
"Employers should be understanding about how difficult it is to quit smoking and how much support is needed," Berman said. "It’s definitely not just a cost issue, but employers should be informed about what the costs are when they are considering these policies."
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Not sure why smokers are being singled out again. I see more issues with smart phones taking up work time than anything else.
My Husband started at his Job 28 years ago! He started at minimum wage but is now making over 65K per year! I know that is not what some would call a very good pay, but the benefits make up for it!He stayed at this job and worked hard to get where he is now! It gave us the means to raise our girls in a nice area, and afforded us to buy a house and our cars! Our girls went to a Jr college and have good paying jobs! I believe that if people want to work a good job, then do what it takes to get there! I find that some people would rather ride the free train than work for a living! I know people on food stamps and assistance they say that if they get get a job they lose their food stamps and government check! These are the ones that I am sick and tired of supporting!!! Get off ya butts and get a job and stay with it long enough to advance, just as my Husband did!!
I think the only smoker here is an ex-Marine who shows up on time, doesn't miss work, and is the first one to have all his paperwork done each week, and I can't remember the last time he was sick or made an excuse for that matter. Seems like "absenteeism, lost productivity, smoking breaks and health care expenditures" is a little bit of a gray area.
Another prejudiced biased reporter making up the facts as he writes the story. Funny, the vast majority of people I’ve noticed that miss work due to illness or work related accidents are the non-smokers and non-drinkers, not the other way around.
this article is full of beans, who writes this kind of crap, everyone knows that smokers do all the work, because they never get tired. If your a tall smoker you do more work because your way up there hahaha. Leave smokers alone, Stop whinning about every little ol thing,
I am tired of smokers being singled out..Aren't they happy with the no smoking now in some restaurants and bars? When is enough? smokling is blamed for everything. What about the canned food, all the sodium and some are even to cause cancer, the bottled water causes cancer, etc. Smoking does not cause missing work anymore than drinkers with hangovers, overeaters too tired to get up and move, dr. appts for colds and flu and appts for damage the workplace does to us, come on...get real. Look how the casinos mess up ppl's lives that cannot control the gambling. I know too many non smokers with cancer, copd, etc. Where is our free to live as we want?
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