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How much does a smoker on the payroll cost? — $5,816

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Kissing a smoker is like putting your tongue in an ashtray

A smoker costs a private employer in the United States an extra $5,816 per year compared with a nonsmoker, according to an analysis of data collected from earlier studies on the costs of smoking.

Researchers at The Ohio State University estimated that the largest cost, at $3,077 annually, came from taking smoking breaks. Smokers took, on average, about five breaks a day, compared with the three breaks typically sanctioned for most workers.

The second largest cost, at $2,056, was related to excess health care expenses. Smokers typically have more health problems than nonsmokers, including heart and lung disease and various cancers.

The remaining costs came from increased absenteeism — the researchers found that smokers miss about two-and-a-half extra workdays each year — and lost productivity at work, perhaps because of nicotine’s withdrawal effects. The findings appeared online in June in the journal Tobacco Control.

“We certainly encourage businesses to provide smoking cessation programs. At least for large companies, it’s highly likely to save them money over time,” said Micah Berman, an assistant professor of public health and law at Ohio State and lead author of the analysis.

That’s only direct costs, of course. Secondhand and thirdhand smoke aren’t factored into the cost equation at all. The damage done to non-smoking employees by smokers.

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Written by Ed Campbell

August 7, 2013 at 2:00 pm

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