Workplaces can cut the number of smokers sharply with smoking cessation
OTTAWA, Oct. 29, 2013 /CNW/ - Smokers take a toll on the bottom line of
their employers, according to a Conference Board of Canada report
released ahead of its 2nd Summit on Sustainable Health and Health Care.
On average, each smoker costs his or her employer an estimated $4,256 in
2012—more than $3,800 in lost productivity due to unsanctioned smoking
breaks and more than $400 in lost productivity due to absenteeism. This
amount has risen by more than 25 per cent since the Conference Board's
2005 estimate of the per-smoker cost to employers.
The overall economic costs of smoking borne by businesses and society
were estimated at $11.4 billion in 2010.
Three-quarters of current smokers are working — and most want to break
The prevalence rate of daily smokers in a typical Canadian company is
estimated to fall by 35 per cent by 2025 if a workplace cessation
program is introduced.
" The workplace is an ideal setting to combat smoking. Canadian
businesses should have a strong financial incentive to help smokers
quit, especially in industries like construction, mining, and
transportation that employ predominantly male blue-collar workers. The
prevalence of smoking is much higher than average in these industries,
and employers are less likely to offer effective cessation programs,
benefits, policies or practices," said Fares Bounajm, Senior Research
Associate, Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care and co-author
of Smoking Cessation and the Workplace: Benefits of Workplace Programs.
Unsanctioned smoking breaks make up about 90 per cent of the cost to
employers, at a cost of $3,842 per full-time employee—a 26 per cent
increase since the Conference Board estimated the costs of smoking in
2005, published in Smoking and the Bottom Line: Updating the Costs of Smoking in the
Productivity losses due to absenteeism add other costs to employers. On
average, each daily smoker and recent quitter took almost
two-and-a-half more sick days in 2010 compared to employees who have
never smoked— at a cost to their employers of $414 per year.
While the annual absenteeism cost represents only about 10 per cent of
the overall $4,256 cost to employers, it has a more widespread impact
because it applies to both current daily smokers and recent quitters.
Smoking is also responsible for large losses in economic activity, due
to its association with increased risk of short- and long-term
disability and premature mortality. In 2010 alone, this loss was
estimated at $11.4 billion, or 0.68 per cent of GDP.
Yet, employers are not doing enough to change the smoking culture in
their workplace. Less than half of respondents to a Conference Board
survey take the important first step of offering a health risk
assessment to all employees.
Employers can then help their employees quit by implementing a workplace
cessation program. In this study, The Conference Board of Canada
estimated that the prevalence rate of daily smokers in a typical
Canadian company would fall by 35 per cent by 2025 if a workplace
cessation program were introduced. In the absence of a workplace
cessation program, the prevalence rate of daily smokers would be
expected to fall by 13 per cent.
This publication is the last of three briefings in the Conference
Board's series Smoking Cessation and the Workplace. The previous
publications were Profile of Tobacco Smokers in Canada, and Smoking Cessation Programs in Canadian Workplaces.
Funding for this research was provided by Pfizer Canada and the Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC).
Launched in 2011, CASHC is a five-year Conference Board program of
research and dialogue. It will delve deeply into facets of Canada's
health care challenge, including the financial, workplace, and
institutional dimensions, in an effort to develop forward-looking
qualitative and quantitative analysis and solutions to make the system
The 2nd Summit on Sustainable Health and Health Care will convene Canada's health system leaders to discuss the latest
research, learn from top Canadian and international experts, and
explore solutions for Canada's greatest health challenges and
SOURCE: Conference Board of Canada
For further information:
Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 221