Business Cost of Smoker Employees vs Non Smoker
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
puts a $3,391 price tag on each employee who smokes: $1,760 in lost
productivity and $1,623 in excess medical expenditures. In addition,
estimated costs associated with secondhand smoke’s effects on nonsmokers can
add up to $490 per smoker per year.1,2
Direct Costs of Tobacco Use
Direct costs are those dollars spent on
health services. Direct costs include payments made out-of-pocket on
healthcare benefits, disability, and workers' compensation.
- In the United States, the direct
medical costs associated with smoking totaled approximately $75.5 billion
(average 1997-2001), according to the Centers for Disease Control and
- Businesses pay an average of
$2,189 in workers' compensation costs for smokers, compared with $176 for
- Nonsmoking employees can receive
workers' compensation, unemployment compensation, disability benefits, and
other settlements based upon their exposure to secondhand smoke in the
Indirect Costs of Tobacco Use
Indirect costs are expenses not immediately
related to treatment of disease. These non-medical expenditures include lost
wages, lost workdays, costs related to using replacement workers, overtime
premiums, productivity losses related to unscheduled absences, and
productivity losses of workers on the job.
- A national study based on American
Productivity Audit data of the U.S. workforce found that tobacco use was
one of the greatest causes of lost worker production time (LPT) — greater
than alcohol consumption, family emergencies, age, or education.
Additionally, LPT increased in relation to the amount smoked. LPT
estimates for workers who reported smoking one pack of cigarettes per day
or more was 75% higher than that observed for nonsmoking employees or
employees who had previously quit smoking.
- In 2005, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention concluded that each employee who smokes costs
employers $1,897 in lost productivity each year.
- Approximately $92 billion (average
1997-2001) is linked with lost productivity resulting from smoking
attributable diseases according to the Centers for Disease Control and
- On average, smokers miss 6.16 days
of work per year due to sickness (including smoking related acute and
chronic conditions), compared to nonsmokers, who miss 3.86 days of work
- Employees who take four 10-minute
smoking breaks a day actually work one month less per year than workers
who don't take smoking breaks.
- The Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development calculates that construction and maintenance
costs are 7% higher in buildings that allow smoking than in buildings that
- Employers in the United States
could save $4 to $8 billion in building operations and maintenance costs
if they implemented comprehensive smoke-free indoor air policies according
to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) estimates that smoke-free restaurants can expect to save about $190
per 1,000 square feet each year in lower cleaning and maintenance costs.
Workplace Costs of
- Greater health insurance costs and
- Greater life insurance premium costs
and increased claims.
- Greater disability costs.
- Greater worker's compensation
payments and occupational health awards.
- Recruitment and retraining costs
resulting from loss of employees to tobacco-related death and
- Lost productivity.
- Greater amount of work time used on
tobacco-use habits and routines.
- Greater number of disciplinary
- Smoke pollution (increased cleaning
and maintenance costs).
- Air cooling, heating, and
- Accidents and fires (plus related
- Property damage (plus related
- Greater risk of industrial accidents
and occupational injuries.
- Liability and litigation costs
associated with exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.
- Illness and discomfort among
nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke.
Smoker Employee Incentive Program
A 2009 study of employees of a
multinational company indicated that financial incentives can increase
tobacco cessation program enrollment rates, completion of programs and
Examples of incentives:
- Benefit enhancements.
- Lower deductibles.
- Reduced premiums.
- Flexible benefit credits to attend smoking
- Cash incentives for smoking cessation treatments
- Cash incentives for health education programs.
Advantages of Incentives
Disadvantages of Incentives
- Easy to set up and operate.
- Very flexible and adaptable.
- Can have significant behavioral
- Can be designed for different
departments and different levels.
- Can be linked to organizational
goals and objectives.
- Encourage cessation program
- Give employees a positive focus.
- Reinforce motivation to quit.
- Reinforce employees' not using
- Determining the best reward may be
- Employees can falsify cessation
- Non-tobacco users might feel
1 Kristein, “How Much Can Business Expect to Profit From
Smoking Cessation?” Preventive Medicine, 1983; 12:358-381.2
Jackson & Holle, “Smoking: Perspectives 1985,” Primary Care,
Source: Smoke-free work sites top ten financial
benefits to employers. Western CAPT/CASAT. University of Nevada, Reno.
Center for Health Promotion Publications. The Dollar (and sense)
Benefits of Having a Smoke-Free Workplace. Lansing, Michigan Tobacco
Control Program; 2000.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Making your Workplace
Smoke-Free: A Decision Makers Guide.
Above Information obtained from:
Biocare Therapy Home Page