Employees who smoke impose significant excess costs on employers, with the average smoking staffer costing the company roughly $6,000 U.S. dollars more a year than a non-smoker, according to a team of researchers from the College of Public Health & Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. The added expense comes from additional time off, smoking breaks and healthcare costs, the authors concluded.

“It is important to remember that the costs imposed by tobacco use are not simply financial costs,” the authors wrote. “It is not possible to put a price on the lost lives and the human suffering caused by smoking. The desire to help one’s employees lead healthier and longer lives should provide an additional impetus for employers to work towards eliminating tobacco from the workplace.”

Researchers reviewed and analyzed previous studies on the subject to estimate certain discrete costs associated with smoking employees. They then developed a cost estimation approach to approximate the total of such costs for U.S. employers. The team examined absenteeism, presenteesim (lower productivity while working because of nicotine addiction), smoking breaks, healthcare costs and pension benefits for smokers.

Calculations showed that low productivity due to excess absenteeism costs employers, on average, $517 a year per smoking employee; presenteeism cost $462; smoking breaks cost $3,077; and excess healthcare cost $2,056.