Smokers Miss More Work, Says New Study

According to a new study, smokers miss more work than people who do not smoke.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham, UK, found that smokers miss two to three more days of work every year compared to their non-smoking co-workers. According to the study, that means that smoking costs UK employers about 1.4 billion pounds, or$2.25 billion, every year.

Douglas Levy, a tobacco and public health researcher from the Harvard Medical School in Boston, told Yahoo News:

“Clearly the most important message for any individual’s health is, ‘Quit smoking,’ but I think that message is pretty well out there … But I think (the study) does point to the fact that this is something that doesn’t just affect the individual, it affects the economy as well.”

Lead author Jo Leonardi-Bee looked at studies conducted in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Japan, and Australia between 1960 and 2011 and found that smokers were 33 percent more likely to miss work.

Leonardi Bee writes in the journal Addiction:


“The results of this study suggest that smoking cessation in the workplace could potentially result in cost savings for employers from reduced absenteeism.”

In addition to absenteeism, smoking can also cost employers money by causing a loss of productivity (smoke breaks), from smoking related fire damage, and by creating larger health costs.

Levy said:

“There’s a growing sense that employee wellness is important. As health care costs start to increase and this becomes something which is really squeezing employers, this is something they’re trying to do to address that.”