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Research/studies | Worker health and wellness

Employees who smoke drive up health care, productivity costs: study

June 5, 2013

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Columbus, OH – Each employee who smokes tobacco costs employers approximately $6,000 more per year in health care and productivity costs than non-smoking employees, according to a new study from Ohio State University.

Researchers estimated the annual excess cost to employers per working smoker at between $2,885 and $10,125 – a range based on several sources that calculated the costs of absenteeism, presenteesim, smoking breaks, health care and pension benefits, the study abstract states.

The additional average annual cost to employers per smoking employee – $5,816 – is greater than the $3,400 figure per smoker that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated a decade ago, an OSU press release states. However, the CDC estimate was an overall cost to the U.S. economy and did not focus on employer costs.

Researchers suggested their report could be used to provide context in discussions about workplace policies, such as those pertaining to higher premiums for smokers or not hiring self-identified smokers.

The study was published online June 3 in the journal Tobacco Control.