Another Reason to Kick the Habit

Another Reason to Kick the Habit

We know that smoking can be bad for your health, but it's bad for your company's bottom line, too.

Decreased productivity from added sick days, smoke breaks and greater health care expenses lead smokers to cost their employers nearly $6,000 a year more than nonsmokers, according to a new study published in the medical journal Tobacco Control.

Previous studies have documented the burden of smoking on the health care system and on workplace productivity, but this is the first study to directly address smoking's financial toll on employers, the study's lead author Micah Berman told NBC News.

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Smoking by the Numbers

Though researchers said they low-balled their estimates, they determined it costs an average of $5,816 more per year to employ a smoker. That's even compensating for not having to pay pensions to employees who generally die earlier because smokers experience higher incidence of lung disease, heart disease and cancer.

Smoke breaks cost employers at least $1,640 per smoker annually in paid time lost, and the real cost could be nearly twice that, according to researchers. The excess health care expenses cost employers $2,055 annually for every employee that smokes. The study also found that smokers experience lower productivity when they are in the office, due in large part to the addictive effects of nicotine.

Smoking is not permitted in a growing number of workplaces across the country, but the new findings may fuel campaigns by some companies to implement bans on hiring smokers. Several lawsuits have been filed against these policies, and statutes in 29 states and the District of Columbia do not permit hiring bans on smokers. Public health experts say that smokers benefit more from support in quitting than from hiring restrictions.

RELATED: Quit Smoking Through Helpful Text Messages

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