Behavioral Sciences & Social Medicine > Area Health Education Center
Tobacco-related deaths, injuries and poor health not only affect the tobacco user but also have direct and indirect costs for employers. Direct costs include payments made out-of-pocket on healthcare benefits, disability, and workers' compensation. The direct medical costs associated with smoking total approximately $75.5 billion (average 1997-2001).1 Additionally, businesses pay an average of $2,189 in workers' compensation costs for smokers, compared with $176 for nonsmokers.2 Indirect costs include lost wages, lost workdays, costs related to using replacement workers, overtime premiums, productivity losses related to unscheduled absences, and productivity losses of workers on the job. It is estimated that each employee who smokes costs employers $1,897 in lost productivity each year.1
Have you thought about how much tobacco use costs your organization? These factors include, greater healthcare costs, increased absenteeism, work time spent on smoking breaks, higher life insurance premiums, increased risk of occupational injuries, increased cost of disability, increased disciplinary actions. Use this calculator as a guide to estimating these costs.
The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) report Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: A Clinical Practice Guideline, recommends the inclusion of tobacco cessation treatments (both pharmacotherapy and counseling) in employee health benefit packages.3 By adhering to the following recommendations, employers can potentially reduce the negative health and economic effects of tobacco use.
Recommendation: Employers should request or select health plans that cover all effective tobacco cessation treatments and allow employees to choose their preferred approach.3, 4
Recommendations: Employers should educate all employees about the availability of tobacco cessation benefits and encourage employees to use the benefits.3
Recommendation: Employers should consider making their workplaces tobacco free. 4,7