GASP Education Center

Hiring Non-Smoking Employees Saves Money

Hiring Non-Smoking Employees Saves Money

Employers are beginning to realize that it makes economic sense to hire non-smoking employees. There are several good reasons why.

Nonsmokers have less absenteeism than smokers.

U.S. Public Health Service Studies show that smokers are absent from work because of illness 30% more often than nonsmokers. In a recent year, excess absenteeism (smokers over nonsmokers) totaled 80 million lost workdays nationwide. Another study, conducted at the Warsaw Antismoking Clinic in Poland, showed that frequent absences could be as much as five times greater for smokers.

Nonsmokers have fewer illnesses.

The reason smokers are absent more is because they are ill more. Their airways have frequently been so damaged by exposure to smoke that they are particularly susceptible to invading viruses and bacteria. One study showed, for example, that smokers catch the common cold one-and-a-half times more often than nonsmokers.

Nonsmokers have fewer chronic diseases leading to early disability.

Smokersí diseases such as lung cancer, pulmonary emphysema, and coronary heart disease often turn workers into permanent invalids, necessitating early retirement-and costly disability payments.

Nonsmokers have fewer work accidents than smokers.

The Warsaw study showed that nonsmokers had only half as many work accidents. One reason cited was that smokers occasionally smoked in areas where for safety reasons smoking was banned. Smoking is often a distraction, which upsets normal work procedures and sometimes leads to accidents. For example, smoking drivers are more accident-prone because of the distraction of searching for a cigarette, lighting up, flicking ashes, or dropping a cigarette, which diverts their attention from the job of driving.

Nonsmokers are often more productive.

They do not take time away from their jobs to have a "smoking break" or take a trip to the cigarette machine, or fumble with cigarette packs, matches or ashtrays. One former smoking secretary commented, "I never realized how much time I wasted with my smoking habit. I get so much more work done every day now that I\'ve quit."

Nonsmokers make a better impression with the general public.

Receptionists, salespeople, and others dealing "up front" with customers present a better image of their company if they don\\'t smoke. Small wonder, since more than three-quarters of the general public are nonsmokers themselves, and many of them are smoke-sensitive enough to be distinctly uncomfortable in the presence of smoke.

Nonsmokers are less destructive of company property.

Fire damage alone, caused by careless smoking, represents a huge financial loss for businesses. A conservative estimate by the National Fire Protection Association is that one-quarter of all fires resulting in property losses are caused by smoking materials. In fires where lives are lost, over one-half are smoking related. Destruction such as cigarette burns in rugs, burn marks on desks, trash-can fires, ashes on merchandise, and smoky-smelling goods are common occurrences where smokers are employed.

Nonsmokers do not offend fellow workers.

by polluting the air, subjecting them to discomfort and annoyance, and sometimes causing friction among workers. Smokers discharge significant amounts of carbon monoxide into the air in enclosed areas, such as offices, causing changes in the carboxyl-hemoglobin blood levels of nonsmoking co-workers, which can result in drowsiness and reduction in visual and motor acuity.

Nonsmokers are less subject to many occupational health hazards.

When there already exists an industrial condition such as airborne contaminants, nonsmokers do not further endanger their health by contaminating their lungs with tobacco smoke. There often exists a synergistic effect between tobacco smoke and other industrial pollutants, so that exposure to the pollutant, coupled with smoking is almost certain to result in a serious occupational disease.

Nonsmokers can work around sensitive machinery.

Modern technology often requires that sensitive machinery be used in contaminant-free areas, without dust or smoke. Delicate computers are an example. Smoke from smokers may foul instruments, making them inaccurate or, at best, necessitating frequent cleaning.

At a time when there is intense competition for jobs, being a nonsmoker can be a distinct advantage. Nonsmokers would do well to specify on their applications and resumes that they are nonsmokers, and should point out the many benefits to prospective employers. Let\'s look forward to having a smoke-free work force!