How Much Does Smoking Cost UK Businesses?
How Much Does Smoking Cost UK Businesses?
As it turns out, the cost of smoking for UK business may be greater than many people realize. We all know that smoking is bad for your health. A quick look at the American Heart Association can give us some pretty staggering facts on how tobacco use can affect our long-term health outlook (source: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/QuitSmoking/QuittingSmoking/Smoking-Do-you-really-know-the-risks_UCM_322718_Article.jsp).
Here are just a few statistics that you may not have heard before…
- Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the US
- More than 1 in 5 deaths in the US are caused by smoking
- On average, smokers die about 13 to 14 years earlier than non-smokers
- There are 4,000 components found in cigarettes, and at least 250 of them are considered ‘harmful to human health’ by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
With facts like these on the books, it is difficult to imagine why anyone would even consider taking up the habit. Yet, every year, many people get hooked on cigarettes… though their health is not the only thing that suffers when they do. As it turns out, smoking may also have a direct impact on the economy… and that impact is mostly negative.
How Much Does It Cost?
When you add everything together, tobacco use ends up costing UK businesses about £8.7 billion in lost productivity each year. These losses take many forms. Smoking breaks are just one example that many businesses have been forced to deal with. According to research, the average smoker takes 4 smoking breaks in a full working day. These breaks last about 10 minutes each. When you factor into this the fact that smokers make up about twenty percent of the workforce, this really adds up in the long run to heavy productivity losses for UK businesses!
Smokers also statistically take one more sick day per year than non-smokers do. This is mostly attributed to the fact that you are more likely to get sick if you smoke, but it also adds up to problems and lost productivity for businesses.
If you put everything together, this adds up to about 136 hours of lost productivity for every smoker employed by a UK business per year. This creates a staggering burden of £1,522 (on average) that each smoker is causing businesses each year in non-productive wages. You can find out more about these statistics here… http://www.cebr.com/reports/smoking-costs-uk-businesses-8-7bn/.
How Can This Lost Productivity Be Avoided?
Of course, the big question now becomes this… how can businesses avoid this lost productivity and embrace a better overall outlook where smoking employees are concerned? That is a great question, but the answer may not be as difficult to find as some might think.
According to the article linked to above, seven out of ten workers say that finding free information about quitting smoking would be ‘useful’ to them. Two thirds of smokers even say that they would like their employer to promote campaigns that could help them to stop smoking.
The main message here is one of interest. Contrary to what many people might think, non-smokers and business owners are not the only ones who wish that fewer people smoked. This raises a very interesting question for business owners. Would more workers stop smoking if resources were made available to them that made smoking easier to quit?
The answer to this question may definitely be a resounding yes… and if so, there is a chance that electronic cigarettes could play a part. Of course, E-cigs are not technically a nicotine replacement product like patches or gum, but there is a lot of compelling evidence that suggest that they could be useful for helping people to wean themselves off of nicotine. If nothing else, E-cigs could prove a much safer and much cheaper alternative to tobacco-filled cigarettes.
This would cut down on sick days, and may even help employees to get to a point where they do not need four breaks per day to get their ‘nicotine’ fix. If cravings could be controlled and reduced, there is a very good chance that ex-smokers could go an entire day without a ‘smoking break’ without ruining their good mood or plunging them into the negatives associated with nicotine withdrawal.