During October 2015, thousands of people across England have been taking part in Stoptober, a 28-day challenge to stop smoking, which leads smokers through a detailed step-by-step programme to help them achieve their aim of quitting smoking for good. Giving up for this period of time can have very real benefits – it has been calculated that smokers who quit for 28 days are five times more likely to stay smoke-free in the long-term.
A study carried out in November 2012 aimed to assess the association between smoking and absenteeism in working adults. It concluded that:
- current smokers had a 33% increase in risk of absenteeism compared to non-smokers;
- current smokers were absent for an average of 2.74 more days per year compared with non-smokers;
- ex-smokers had a 14% increase in the risk of absenteeism compared to those who had never smoked.
In addition, the World Health Organization’s 2011 report into the economic cost of smoking estimated the overall economic costs of tobacco use in the UK to be over £13 billion per year, which comprises:
- treatment of smoking-related illness;
- loss of productivity due to illness and smoking breaks;
- increased absenteeism;
- loss of economic output from those who die from diseases related to smoking or passive smoking.
Because of the negative impact of smoking not only on workers’ health but, by extension, on the ability of an organisation to remain productive, employers would be well advised to encourage staff to break the habit, and the introduction of a smoking cessation programme in the workplace can bring enormous benefits for employees and organisations. For guidance on work health matters, including reducing the negative effects of smoking, call the Fit for Work advice line on 0800 0325 6235, or visit the Fit for Work website.