Does Tobacco Use in the Workplace Affect my Bottom Line?


The average smoker takes roughly 6 days of smoke breaks every year, an average across various industries.

It has been researched that employees who smoke in the workplace spend more than 1 hour and 20 minutes each day on smoke breaks.

These industries include technology, wholesale, retail, finance, insurance and the service industries. For this article we will be referring to a business with 20 employees or less in the service industry.

Eighty (80) minutes a day for 20 work days equates to over 26.5 hours a month and over 39 days a year in lost manpower or productivity.

You may not feel or see this in your wallet, but if you were to establish workplace guidelines or become a smoke-free place of employment, you would see it in your bank account. More productivity equals more output.

Before you decide to take back your bottom line there are a few things you should check on.

Twenty-nine (29) states have smoker protection laws.

I find this to be highly ridiculous as a previous business owner in the service industry.

You are the one providing jobs for your community and footing the bill.  You are not a charitable organization.

You are a productive member of your community trying to achieve your goals and provide a livelihood for your employees.

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By the numbers, you are losing over 26.5 hours a month and more than 39 days a year in wasted man hours.

The CDC states that an average of 14% of Americans smoke.  So let's take a look at how that translates into your payroll for a company of 20 employees with an average hourly rate of $25/hour:

26.5 hours per month X $25/hour X 3 smoking employees equates to a payroll cost of $2,000 per month or $24,000 a year in wages.

Top that off with an average 15% employer payroll taxes:

$24,000/year X 15% equals $27,600

Did you get that?

For 3 smoking employees at $25/hour, you would pay $27,600 per year out of your pocket to support their habit.

So, let's keep going…

Medical benefits?  The health care costs of an employee who smokes can costs the business owner upwards of $5,816 per year vs insuring a non-smoker.  Let's go conservative and say $2,000.

Smoking also can increase your property insurance. Smoke/fire damage will cost you $10 a person per year. Total $30.  Yes, it is a small amount but every bit adds up.

Annual costs to maintain and clean designated smoking areas are upward of $1,000 a year.

Let's total it up…

  • $27,600 payroll costs
  • $2,000 in employee medical cost x 3 employees = $6,000
  • $30 property insurance
  • $1,000 cleaning costs

…for a grand total of $34,630.

These numbers are staggering!

The leaner your business runs the more efficient your business becomes.

How does a business survive with these numbers?

For $34,000, you could pay off debt, upgrade your equipment or even hire 1 or 2 more employees.

Remember, there are laws against smoker discrimination. I totally agree it is not fair.

However, you do have the right to contact your state representative and ask them to change the law.

For those of us who are lucky enough to live in a state that does not enforce the smoker protection law…. choose your new employees wisely.

This researched was contrived from studies by the CDC, and

Our sole intent at is to help small businesses become more effective and efficient in their business practices.

Why? Because we are business owners too. We feel your pain. We have been there and we want to see you succeed! 

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Accounting, Office & Administration, Payroll Benefits & HR, Protect Your Investment

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