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How much does your smoking workforce cost your business?

Significant economic cost savings can be gained in encouraging a smoke free work force.


It is commonly accepted that smokers tend to have a number of unauthorised smoking breaks throughout the working day.


1. Based on the assumption that smokers take roughly 2 unauthorised smoking breaks per day at around 7-8 minutes each.

15 minutes x 5 day week = 75 minutes

75 minutes x 48 weeks (Allowing 4 weeks annual holiday) = 3600 minutes

3600 minutes = 60 hours divide 8 hours (average length of working day) = 7.5 days

7.5 days x average UK hourly wage (£12.55ph source: GMB Union) at 8 hours per day = £753.00

The above calculation does not consider:

Increased absenteeism due to increased illness – both directly and indirectly related to smoking. Thought to be around 8 days per calendar year more than a non - smoker. (Source: San DiegoUniversitySchool of Public Health. Nb a similar Swedish study suggested up to 14 days more than a non-smoker)

8 more sick days at £12.55 ph x 8 hours = (64 working hours)

64 x £12.55 = £803.00

The cost of providing on-site smoking provision – ie outside shelters etc, and the on going up-keep of such facilities.

4. The resentment, friction and work force division that smoking in the work place causes, due to smokers seemingly getting ‘special treatment’ over non-smokers with the tolerance of extra breaks for smoking etc.

5. Whilst a smoker is away from their work-station, there is more likely to be a lack of productivity during that time. Also to be considered - is the time when the smoker is distracted from their duties whilst considering going for a smoking break, and the settling in period after it, re-asserting concentration to the task in hand.

Smoking also hinders clear concentration. So even whilst the smoker is carrying out their duties, they are more likely to perform slower than a non-smoker of similar job description, ability, position or rank etc.

6. Poor company image associated with elements of work force that smoke. We have all seen the pathetic huddle of smokers competing for space around the ashtray out side their place of work, in all weathers, come rain or shine.

In summary there is enough evidence to suggest it can be reasonably argued that the average smoker costs their employer around £2000 per year more than the cost of employing a non-smoker.

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