16

DN.se

Det kostar nära 6.000 dollar (knappt 40.000 kronor) mer per år att ha en rökare anställd än någon som inte röker, visar en studie i USA.

Skälet är rökares större sjukfrånvaro, dyrare hälsovård och lägre produktivitet på grund av rökpauser.

Studien har tagit med i beräkningen att rökare har kortare livslängd och får ut mindre pension.

Translation:

Smokers cost close to 6000 dollars more per year than non-smokers, according to an american study.

The reason is that smokers have higher amount of sick days, more expensive health care and lower productivity because of smoke pauses.

The study have included into the calculation, the fact that smokers have shorter lifespan, and get lower pension.

Is there any truth to the study?

Is it really that big difference between smokers and non-smokers?

This is a study from the US, does it apply to rest of the world as well?

I know there is a HUGE difference in work situation between Sweden and the US. In Sweden everyone is allowed to take pauses from work, to eat, drink coffee etc. It's written down in a nationwide contract every employer is supposed to follow. If you don't follow it, you get workers union, media and in some cases even the government breathing down your neck.

What I am looking for is not anecdotes, but something more substantial. Smoking is harmful, and the effects of smoking is fairly well documented. While details on that might be used as circumstantial evidence, this question is about if it's more expensive to hire a smoker than a non-smoker.

  • here's another reference to the claim which contains a tiny bit more information. – Ian Jun 4 '13 at 8:58
  • 1
    Is this a question about cost benefit of smoker versus non? That only seems to make sense in the private sector, where there are concerns for such things. "The study have included into the calculation, the fact that smokers have shorter lifespan, and get lower pension." What is this pension thing you speak of? – user1873 Jun 7 '13 at 23:20
  • I'd just like to add anecdotally that there's the widely held belief that smokers get more breaks. This would presumably mean they aren't as efficient as they otherwise might have been. – Edward G-Jones Jul 21 '15 at 15:24
  • @EdwardG-Jones: This question involves a study by evonomists that deny smokers are less productive. – Oddthinking Nov 6 '16 at 9:27
22

The Swedish summary appears to refer to this paper:

It was an economic analysis based on existing literature.

We examined absenteeism, presenteesim, smoking breaks, healthcare costs and pension benefits for smokers. [...] Our best estimate of the annual excess cost to employ a smoker is $5816. This estimate should be taken as a general indicator of the extent of excess costs, not as a predictive point value.

So, the Daygens Nyheter summary seems reasonable. There was a study that did draw these conclusions.

Whether the study itself is accurate is more difficult to assess.

  • It was published in a prestigious, peer-reviewed scientific journal.
  • It was only published recently, so it is a bit early to check whether the scientific community has cited it approvingly.
  • I checked on one author, and it was within their area of expertise.
  • It is consistent with similar approaches/findings from Germany and the UK.
  • They document potential biases, and discuss how they have attempted to minimise them.

It seems reasonable to provisionally accept these findings until counter-evidence is found.

It almost goes without saying: Correlation does not imply causation. It may not be the tobacco alone that account for the increased costs.

  • Fair enough. I guess this is the best answer that is possible for now. – Wertilq Jul 27 '13 at 18:58
0

It's generally accepted by most employers (certainly in the UK) that smokers on average will take more time off due to associated illnesses than those who don't smoke (tobacco).

This is information relating to a recent study into this subject:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs/9644859/Smokers-extra-sick-days-cost-UK-businesses-1.4bn-a-year.html

Unfortunately the actual research findings don't appear to be available online.

Also it's a legal requirement in the UK that workers get regular breaks but the exact length and frequency of the break depends on the type of work undertaken.

So, according to the above research it is more expensive on average to hire a smoker than a non-smoker if you pay sick pay. If not then there's the inconvenience of lost productivity when they're sick etc.

  • 1
    Please provide a reference for the first sentence. – user5582 Jul 26 '13 at 19:13
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    I would also like to see a reference for smokers being less productive. You can take lots of pauses and be more efficient than someone who is always at his desk but is a slow/inefficient worker. – nico Jul 26 '13 at 20:11
  • The Daily Telegraph isn't a terribly reliable journal (and, oh wow the comments on that article are hilariously soul-destroying for their lack of skepticism.) Here is the journal article the Daily Telegraph fastidiously avoided linking to: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23078132. Your last paragraph is not a fair precis of their conclusions. – Oddthinking Jul 27 '13 at 3:20
-2

There is a lot of contradictory information, e.g. this study actually find the opposite result.

Ultimately, the thin and healthy group cost the most, about $417,000, from age 20 on. The cost of care for obese people was $371,000, and for smokers, about $326,000. The results counter the common perception that preventing obesity will save health systems worldwide millions of dollars.

Also, one common flaw in the "sick days" argument is the distribution of smokers in the workforce. E.g. there are more smoker among construction workers (and manual labour in general) than for example in academical fields. The risks for injuries are obviously higher for the first group, so correlation does not imply causation.

  • 3
    "The study ... did not take into account other potential costs of obesity and smoking, such as lost economic productivity or social costs." - this study is about lifetime cost to a healthcare system, not cost to employ. So this answer it not actually relevant. – Rob Watts Jul 21 '15 at 17:57
  • @rob-watts The original question also contains "The study have included into the calculation, the fact that smokers have shorter lifespan, and get lower pension.". I already mentioned the "sick days" argument flaw. Also, how much productivity is lost because many non-smokers do not take hourly breaks from their screens, even though it is mandated by EU-directive "The employer must plan the worker’s activities in such a way that daily work on a display screen is periodically interrupted by breaks ..." – Syren Baran Jul 22 '15 at 6:50
  • Your claim about sick days needs citations. The best would be if you could find a study about how many sick days a smoker takes on average compared to colleagues in the same field. – Rob Watts Jul 22 '15 at 13:55

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