- With the average smoker spending six days a year on smoking breaks and health-related smoking problems costing $156 million in lost productivity, most nonsmokers say they should be rewarded with extra time off and health care discounts, according to a new study.
- HaloCigs, an e-cigarette maker, polled 1,000 people and 42% of nonsmokers said they should receive three to five extra vacations days, others thought slightly more or less would be appropriate, while 20% said they shouldn't receive any.
- The survey also found that time lost smoking varied by industry, with workers in technology; wholesale and retail; and finance and insurance spending about an hour and 20 minutes daily on smoke breaks. Those in the real estate and legal industries spend the least time on breaks, at 20 to 25 minutes per day.
The astronomical costs of smoking-related lost productivity and medical care have certainly led some employers to try to incentivize employees to quit.
But while the survey's findings may provide some interesting insight into how smokers' coworkers feel about their breaks, most employers have focused on smoking cessation programs. These offerings are often part of larger wellness initiatives that stress healthy lifestyles and a "culture of health." Programs often also help workers improve their diet and exercise habits.
In addition, it's worth noting that employers don't have to permit workers to smoke on company property and are free to limit the frequency and duration of breaks (state law permitting). Going further, however, can violate state law, as some states protect legal activity outside the workplace.