Smoking Kills (Your Profit Margins)

How Smokers Cost Employers Over $5,000 a Year

Looking to hire? A new report indicates that it wouldn’t be in your best interest to put a smoker on payroll.

As reported in the New York Times, a new meta-analysis by researchers at Ohio State University—based on earlier studies of the cost of smoking—found that a tobacco smoker will cost an employer $5,816 more compared to a similar nonsmoker.

Based on conventional wisdom, we’d expect most of this would be due to health problems. Surprisingly, that’s not the case. The largest portion of that cost came from breaks. Smoking breaks meant more time off work for smokers, about eight breaks a day, in fact. When compared to the typical number of three for nonsmokers, the lost-productivity cost in breaks alone was $3,077 annually.

The next portion came from, as you’d guess, health expenses. With private employers sometimes offering insurance and other benefits, smokers racked up $2,056 more than their non-smoking co-workers. Heart and lung disease, as well as cancer, have all been attached to smoking. This excess cost comes even with data that indicates smokers are less likely to collect on their full Social Security and/or pensions.

The final $683 comes from absenteeism and presenteesim. Smokers are, first, more likely to miss work through the year—totaling 2.5 extra days off each year. Secondly, perhaps due to nicotine withdrawal, smokers are less productive while at work.

Altogether, this means that employing smokers means a significant extra cost to business, one it would be surprising if they don’t take note of. So the next time you’re checking out the warning label of a cigarette pack, you might want to mentally add “unemployed” to the list.

You can find the full study and report published through the Journal of Tobacco Control.


The Cost of a Smoker: $5,816,” By Sophie Egan, The New York Times

  • Ken Huffar

    GREAT article. No
    one thinks about time. Not just as a company but as an individual. Time to get
    the ciggs,time to smoke,all the time thinking about the next cigg,forgot matches
    or lighter….. TIME WASTER! America had 95% of the worlds productions of
    goods at one time. Now look where we are. Cigarettes’ are just 1 reason we
    blew it BIG TIME!

  • tan

    Yep,, I’m paid for working 36 hours a week, I work closer to 80 hours a week.
    I smoke and eat while i work, so no breaks for smoko’s or even lunch.
    Ive had 1.5 days off in the last year, because the wife was sick, when I’m sick i work through it.

    It more comes down to, if bosses look after staff, staff look after bosses/employer.

    If my employer wanted to start bitching about smoko’s, they would end up with the 26 hours I’m paid to work.

    You know humans history, discrimination against blacks, Asians, females, people on one side of the railroad tracks, religion, based on income, etc etc..

    Now smokers is just another group to generalize and discriminate against.

    Your employee’s worth is based on a performance review, try doing one.
    If the employee isn’t performing, fire them, whether they are black white Asian or a smoker.

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