Today is World No Tobacco Day. Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Smoking is directly linked to lung cancer (and over 10 other types of cancer), heart disease, diabetes, stroke, reproductive issues, vision and hearing loss, gum disease, tooth loss, and so much more.


Smokers aren’t the only ones who pay a price for their addictions; their employers also suffer significant losses. According to a number of reputable studies, smoking leads to a significant increase in healthcare costs and absenteeism, as well as a significant decrease in productivity. Employees who smoke take more breaks, miss more work days, and cost their employers more in disability and premature mortality. Productivity and profitability are directly related to employee health and wellness; it’s time we acknowledge this and take action.


How do we know that smoking negatively impacts company performance?


We’ve all worked alongside smokers who are constantly pausing their duties for a ten-minute smoke break. But that’s not the only way that productivity suffers as a result of tobacco use. Multiple studies show increased absenteeism in smokers.


One study, which collected absentee data on more than 14,000 Swedish workers, found that smokers take an average of 11 more sick days per year than non-smokers.


Another study collected data from 300 employees of a major U.S airline’s reservation office. 100 of these employees had never smoked before, 100 were former smokers, and 100 were current smokers. Current smokers displayed greater absenteeism than never-smokers, with former smokers falling somewhere in the middle. If that doesn’t make the connection clear enough, the study also found that in the years after former smokers quit smoking, their rates of absenteeism showed a significant decline. Simply put, smoking cessation is proven to increase employee attendance.


What can be done to encourage/help employees to quit smoking?

Employers can provide employees with smoking cessation programs and incentives for quitting. OccuMed provides smoking cessation programs to businesses across New England. These programs offer smokers support and proven strategies for quitting and staying off tobacco for good. If you are interested in helping your company become healthier and more productive, contact us at 833-622-8633