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HEALTH CARE

Smokers Cost Employers $5,800 a Year

Those smoke breaks come with a hefty price tag, finds a shocking new study.
Next year, Terracycle will begin brainstorming on a sustainable end-of-life solution for cigarette butts.
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That pack of cigarettes might cost more than you think. 

According to a recent Ohio State University study, every smoker costs their company about $5,800. 

But health costs aren't the problem--it's the smoking breaks. 

"Employees who smoke impose significant excess costs on private employers," concluded the researchers. 

Check out their breakdown of annual costs

$3,077: Cost of five smoke breaks per day. The report calls this a "modest estimate," as it's based on five 15-minute breaks taken during an eight-hour workday, assuming three breaks are taken at sanctioned times. 

$2,056: Additional healthcare costs due to smoking. 

$517: Cost of sick days taken by smokers, due to their health. 

$462: Cost of reduced productivity. Withdrawal symptoms kick in 30 minutes after the last drag.  

$296: The amount saved by companies on annual pensions since smokers tend to die young. 

$5,816: Total estimated cost of each smoker to their employer.

Tackling these costs isn't easy. After some companies tried to ban smokers, 29 states passed some form of smoker-protection laws.

But thanks to a recent Affordable Care Act ruling, some of these costs might be covered by tobacco surcharges tacked onto smokers' health insurance policies. 

The ruling, which was issued last week, allows employers to incentivize workers' health. Those who don't participate in their employer's wellness plan can see penalties on their health premiums of up to 50 percent. 

Last updated: Jun 5, 2013

JANA KASPERKEVIC | Staff Writer

Jana Kasperkevic is a graduate of Baruch College, City University of New York, where she earned a bachelors degree in Journalism and Political Science. She covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurship for Inc. Her work has appeared in The Village Voice, InvestmentNews, Business Insider, and Houston Chronicle, among others. She lives in Brooklyn.




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