Washington: U.S. businesses pay almost 6,000 dollars per year extra for each employee who smokes compared to the cost to employ a person who has never smoked cigarettes, according to a new study.
Researchers said the study is the first to take a comprehensive look at the financial burden for companies that employ smokers.
By drawing on previous research on the costs of absenteeism, lost productivity, smoke breaks and health care costs, the researchers developed an estimate that each employee who smokes costs an employer an average of 5,816 dollars annually above the cost of a person who never smoked.
These annual costs can range from 2,885 dollars to 10,125 dollars, according to the research.
Smoke breaks accounted for the highest cost in lost productivity, followed by health-care expenses that exceed insurance costs for nonsmokers.
The analysis used studies that measured costs for private-sector employers, but the findings would likely apply in the public sector as well, lead author, Micah Berman, said.
The study focuses solely on economics and does not address ethical and privacy issues related to the adoption of workplace policies covering employee smoking.
Increasingly, businesses have been adopting tobacco-related policies that include requiring smokers to pay premium surcharges for their health-care benefits or simply refusing to hire people who identify themselves as smokers.
The researchers acknowledge that providing smoking-cessation programmes would be an added cost for employers.
First Published: Wednesday, June 05, 2013, 22:42