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The surging popularity of e-cigarettes has reopened the discussion on smoking in the workplace. As it currently stands, the facts overwhelmingly show the adverse effects of tobacco and nicotine on the health of employees and the success of a company.
Legal Aspects of Smoking
- 43 states have local laws that require non-hospitality workplaces, restaurants, and bars to be 100% smoke-free (ANRF, 2020)
- Countries with laws prohibiting smoking in most workplaces have a higher likelihood of having smoke-free homes (PubMed, 2011)
- Smoke-free laws gather strong public support from both smokers and non-smokers (CDC)
- Smokers living in countries under a total smoking ban are more likely to quit smoking (TobaccoControl)
- Some companies have publicly stated that they will not hire smokers, even though employers are generally prohibited from discriminating; the law varies from state to state (Fortune, 2020)
E-cigarettes Use and Vaping
- One in twenty, or 10.8 million adults now use e-cigarettes; more than half (51.2%) of those users are younger than 35 years (Acpjournals, 2018)
- The most common pattern of use is dual–use, meaning the use of both traditional cigarettes and electronic cigarettes (Acpjournals, 2018)
- Only six states have specifically included the use of e-cigarettes or vaping in their indoor smoking regulation (SHRM)
- Although there’s not enough research, there’s evidence suggesting that vaping may pose secondhand emissions risks (ALA, 2020)
- In 2019 only 17 states passed general workplace bans on e-cigarettes and vaping (Workforce, 2019)
- Several measures employers can take to prevent tobacco use are cessation programs, using incentives to change tobacco use, and other programs (CDC, 2015)
- The only way to eliminate secondhand smoke in the workplace is to ban smoking activity. Ventilation, separating smokers from non-smokers and cleaning the air is not sufficient (CDC)
- According to CDC, states do not spend enough on tobacco prevention and control programs (CDC)
- States collect around $27.3 billion from tobacco tax and lawsuits, but will spend less than 2.4% of that money on tobacco prevention programs (CDC)
- 82% of employees across all industries agree that companies offering incentives for employees to quit smoking is a good idea (Theladders, 2018)
How Smoking Affects Work
- Multiple studies have proven that smokers have a greater likelihood of unemployment (11.1%) than non–smokers (6.4%) (Jamanetwork, 2016)
- Tobacco use among employees is correlated to higher healthcare costs, unproductive time, and absenteeism (PubMed, 2009)
- Employees who smoke cost private companies around $5,816 more per year than non-smoking employees (PubMed, 2014)
- Former smokers had an increase in seven out of ten productivity measures when compared to current smokers (PubMed, 2001)
- The average smoker takes six days of smoke breaks every year (Theladders, 2018)
- Smoking costs the U.S. economy $170 billion per year in direct medical costs (AJPM, 2014)
- Smoking is linked to a 28% increased risk of loss of productivity (Huffpost, 2012)
Prevalence of Tobacco Use
- 19.6% of workers are tobacco users (CDC, 2011)
- A third of tobacco users earn less than $20,000 a year and do not have a high school diploma (CDC, 2015)
- 42% of unemployed adults and almost three-quarters of homeless adults use tobacco (Truthinitiative, 2016)
- Smoking rates among blue-collar workers have been consistently higher than white-collar workers (CDC, 2015)
Protecting Non-smoking Employees
- One in 10 workers reported being exposed to secondhand smoke even with no-smoking laws in place (PubMed, 2014)
- Most workers (94.3%) believe that the employer should do everything to protect the non-smokers from secondhand smoke (PubMed, 2009)
- Workplace secondhand smoke is more common among men and is most widespread among blue-collar workers and industries such as mining and construction PubMed, 2014)
- Over 81% of smokers agree that they should get additional paid smoke breaks, while only 1 in 4 smokers (25.2%) agree that it is fair (Theladders, 2018)
- As stated previously, smokers spend six days in a year on smoke breaks; therefore, 38.2% of smokers and 19.9% of non-smokers agree that smokers should not get any additional vacation days (Theladders, 2018)
Written by shortlister editorial team
Tobacco Cessation Program
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