Smoking employees cost companies $6,000 more a year

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In a study that researchers say is the first of its kind, smokers were found to cost their employers about $6,000 more a year than their non-smoking colleagues.

Ohio State University's Micah Berman led the study, and he says that he understands the growing trend toward companies not only instating smoking bans in offices but also refusing to hire smokers.

“I think it’s certainly relevant to the argument,” Berman told NBC News.

Researchers took a 'conservative approach'

Even after accounting for the fact that companies may benefit in pension costs because smokers tend to die at younger ages than non-smokers – and taking a "conservative approach" when conducing the research – the estimated cost of employing a smoker still skyrocketed.

Berman and his team looked at the minimum amount of money that a company could lose because of employees who take smoke breaks, which came out to about $1,641.14. They note, however, that the amount is probably higher because their data was based on eight-minute smoke breaks, while the average smoke break is probably closer to 15 minutes and occurs twice a day.

“Our best estimate of the annual excess cost to employ a smoker is $5,816,” the authors wrote in the journal Tobacco Control.

Smokers less productive

A large part of the equation is also that smokers tend to be less productive in the workplace than non-smokers, Berman said.

"Though all employees are occasionally unproductive in one way or another, research suggests that smoking status negatively impacts productivity separately and apart from lost work time due to smoking breaks and absenteeism,” the team wrote.

Attending work while sick costs companies $461.92 a year for each employee who smokes, they noted.

Source: NBC News

Photo of smoking employee by John Nyboer

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