Cancer and Tobacco Control

Smokers cost employers thousands

Written by Health-e News

cigaretteashtrySMLWorkers that smoke cost their employers nearly $6 000 (around R60 000) more each year than their non-smoking counterparts.

A new study, published in the journal Tobacco Control, found that smokers incurred more costs through taking time off, smoke breaks and additional health care costs than non-smokers. These findings could have implications for smoking policies in the workplace, the researchers suggest.

“Employees who smoke impose significant excess costs on private employers,” Micah Berman, from the College of Public Health and Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University (US), and colleagues wrote. “The results of this study may help inform employer decisions about tobacco-related policies.”

To estimate the costs associated with employing a smoker the researchers analysed previous studies on the issue. For this calculation they analysed absenteeism, presenteeism (lower productivity while working due to smoking-related health problems), smoking breaks, health care costs and pension benefits for smokers.

The study also revealed that low productivity due to more missed days at work costs employers, on average, $517 (more than R5 000) annually for each employee that smokes. Presenteeism costs $462 (about R4 600) annually for each smoker, smoking breaks cost $3 077 (more than R30 000) a year per smoker and excess health care expenses cost $2 056 (around R20 000) annually for every employee that smokes.

Smokers are more likely to die at a younger age than non-smokers and annual pension costs were an average of $296 (about R3 000) less for each employee who smoked.

Overall, the total estimated cost to employers was $5,816 (R57 500) per year.

“It is important to remember that the costs imposed by tobacco use are not simply financial costs. It is not possible to put a price on the lost lives and the human suffering caused by smoking,” Berman’s team wrote. “The desire to help one’s employees lead healthier and longer lives should provide an additional impetus for employers to work towards eliminating tobacco from the workplace.”

Source: HealthDay News

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