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Smokers Take More Sick Leave: More Evidence Of The Benefits Of Going Smokefree Early

June 29, 2017

Research from Sweden shows that smokers take almost 8 days more sick leave every year than non-smokers. [1] This large, nationally representative study provides the best evidence to date that smoking affects productivity. Across the whole sample, the average number of days taken as sick leave was 25. Smokers took almost 11 extra days off sick compared to non-smoking colleagues. Adjusting for other factors such as socioeconomic status and the type of job undertaken, brought the figure down to just under 8 on average.

Commenting on the study, Deborah Arnott, Director of the health campaigning charity ASH, said:

"This research shows clearly that smokers take significantly more time off sick smoking but what is particularly interesting is that once people stop smoking, their productivity immediately improves.

"The smokefree legislation will bring enormous health and economic benefits for employers and employees alike. In the run-up to the workplace smoking ban employers should provide as much support as possible for their staff who need help in quitting smoking."

The benefits of quitting smoking cannot be over-stressed and the positive effects can be felt quickly. [2] A non-smoking workforce is therefore more likely to be a productive, healthy workforce.

[1] Lundborg P. Does smoking increase sick leave? Evidence using a register data on Swedish workers. Tobacco Control 2007; 16: 114-118
[2] See ASH Factsheet no 11 Stopping smoking: The benefits and aids to quitting. ash/html/factsheets/html/fact11.html