3 reasons why smoking is bad for business

Business Management By Josanne Griffin-Mason, 3rd October 2014

Every year, Public Health England challenge smokers to stop smoking for 28 days during October. Those who do so are five1 times more likely give up for good.

So far, over a quarter of a million people have accepted the 2014 challenge, including some of the UK’s biggest businesses Asda, British Airways and Unilever.

This is why all businesses need to encourage their employees to stub out their cigarettes today.

1. Smoking costs UK businesses £8.7 billion2 a year

The average smoker takes four cigarette breaks a day, each lasting for around ten minutes. They also take one more sick day compared to their non-smoking colleagues.

Over the course of a year, this equates to 136 hours of unproductive time, which you’re paying for.

2. Insuring a smoker could cost TWICE3 as much

Those who smoke are more likely to suffer an early death or critical illness, which is why their life insurance premiums are a lot higher. If you’ve included life insurance in your employee benefits package, you’re looking at paying a third more for a smoker aged 30, and up to double for a 50 year old.

However, most insurance providers will adjust the price of a policy once a smoker has given up for a year, so make sure your HR department is keeping everyone’s records up-to-date.

3. People want to give up

Many smokers spend hundreds of pounds every month on their addiction and know that it is putting their own life at risk, along with the lives of those around them. This is why 78%2 of employees are keen to receive information on their local quitting support services.

A further 67% would like to see their employers promote initiatives such as Stoptober, and by doing so, you could elevate your workforce as they become free of the financial and health burdens of smoking.

Below are some ideas to help you get started on inspiring your employees to kick the habit:

  • Sign up for the Stoptober challengeYour company and employees will receive lots of support, from mobile apps to quitting packs, and it’s all completely free.
  • Build a business case with NICEThe National Institute for Health and Care Excellence offer business cases and costing templates to help you form smoking interventions within the workplace.
  • Join a cycle to work schemePromote healthier and environmentally friendly commutes tax-free.
  • Hold a special eventPromote awareness by raising money for a heart disease charity or throw a party to celebrate all those taking part in the Stoptober challenge.
  • Use the shock factorBring in a bucket of tar to show people exactly what they’re doing to their lungs – sometimes it’s the scare tactics that get people talking and wanting to make serious changes.

1 Stoptober, 2014. Join the Stoptober challenge today!. [Online] Available at: https://stoptober.smokefree.nhs.uk/registration-c.
2 Centre for Economics and Business Research, 2014. Smoking costs UK businesses £8.7 bn. [Online] Available at: http://www.cebr.com/reports/smoking-costs-uk-businesses-8-7bn/.
3 Confused, 2014. Does smoking affect my life insurance premium?. [Online] Available at: http://www.confused.com/life-insurance/guides/does-smoking-affect-my-life-insurance-premium.

All information sources accessed on the 2nd of October 2014.