Smoking in the Workplace
Smoking in the workplace has always been a polarizing subject. Statistics show that in the United States, tobacco use is responsible for about one in five deaths annually.
As the facts came into focus, state and local governments began taking steps to protect non-smoking workers from second-hand smoke and businesses are attempting to reduce the effects of smoking on their bottom line by establishing non-smoking policies on their campuses.
This article offers some interesting statistics on the effects of smoking in the workplace and highlights the legislation that has been enacted by states and municipalities throughout the United States.
Smoking In the Workplace Statistics
From secondhand smoke to maintenance costs, it's quite surprising how much smoking in the workplace affects the bottom line of a company and the health of their employees- including smokers and non-smokers.
The statistics below highlight just a few of the things that are affected by smoking on company property.
- The Surgeon General has concluded that smoke-free workplace policies are the only effective way to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposure.
- Secondhand smoke exposure causes bronchitis, emphysema, asthma, SIDS, and many other ailments.
- Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, 50 of which cause cancer. Ammonia, Acetone, Arsenic, Benzene, Carbon Monoxide, Cyanide, Formaldehyde, Methane, Nicotine, Tar, and Toluene are all in secondhand smoke.
- The U.S. Surgeon General concluded no ventilation system has ever been designed that can protect the public from the death and disease caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, and that establishing smoke-free environments is the only proven way to prevent exposure.
- Secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease and lung cancer among adult nonsmokers.
Costs of Smoking for a Business
- The Society of Actuaries has determined that secondhand smoke costs the U.S. economy roughly $10 billion a year: $5 billion in estimated medical costs associated with secondhand smoke exposure, and another $4.6 billion in lost wages. This estimate does not include youth exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Smoke-free laws add value to establishments. Restaurants in smoke-free cities have a higher market value at resale (an average of 16% higher) than comparable restaurants located in smoke-filled cities.
Absenteeism and Lost Productivity
- Cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke cost $92 billion in productivity losses annually, according to the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
- Smokers, on average, 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 per year.
- A national study based on American Productivity Audit data of the U.S. workforce found that tobacco use was one of the greatest variables observed when determining worker lost production time (LPT)-greater than alcohol consumption, family emergencies, age, or education. The study reported that 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 and ex-smoking workers. In addition, employees who smoked had approximately two times more lost production time per week than workers who never smoked- a cost equivalent of roughly $27 billion in productivity losses for employers.
- The U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention 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.
- The EPA estimates a savings of $4 billion to $8 billion per year in building operations and maintenance costs if comprehensive smoke-free indoor air policies are adopted nationwide.
- The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that construction and maintenance costs are seven percent higher in buildings that allow smoking than in buildings that are smoke-free.
- The National Fire Protection Association found that in 1998 smoking materials caused 8,700 fires in non-residential structures resulting in direct property damage of $60.5 million.
- In a survey of cleaning and maintenance costs among 2,000 companies that adopted smoke-free policies, 60 percent reported reduced expenditures.
- Merle Norman Cosmetics Company in Los Angeles voluntarily went smoke-free and saved $13,500 the first year in reduced housekeeping costs.
- Fire insurance is commonly reduced 25-30% in smoke-free businesses.
- The American Cancer Society reports that employees who smoke have an average insured payment for health care of $1,145, while nonsmoking employees average $762.
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