Smoking and the Energy Industry: Why Employers Should Encourage Quitting

The energy industry, like all others, is completely dependent on healthy, productive workers. Unfortunately, employees who smoke are less likely to be either of these things, and employers should encourage as many of their staff to quit as possible, for the good of the business and the individuals themselves.

The energy industry provides one of the most essential services there is. It ensures that you have the electricity to power your home and gas for your stove, and despite the challenges imposed by the growing problem of climate change, it will continue to be essential for the foreseeable future. If you’re a part of the competitive industry, ensuring your staff is being productive and protecting their health is important. Although it’s ultimately the individual’s decision, for smoking and the energy industry, the best advice for employers is to make it as easy to quit as they can.

Smoking and Workplace Productivity

One of the major areas where the impact of smoking is noticeable is with workplace productivity. If you want to maintain a profitable business, you need to ensure your workers are performing as efficiently as possible.

There is a lot of evidence on smoking and workplace productivity, and the news isn’t good. The simplest way to look at the issue by counting up the numbers of days of work missed for smokers and non-smokers. One study used U.S. data from 147 different companies to do just that, and found that never-smokers took 4.4 days off per year, former smokers took 4.9 days off per year and current smokers took 6.7 days off per year. As you’d expect, smokers also missed substantially more hours of work due to absenteeism.

However, being absent is only one of the ways you can be unproductive. The study also looked at “presenteeism,” which is the time spent unproductively while at work, as a result of health conditions. The results show that never-smokers lost 42.8 hours per year due to presenteeism, former smokers lost 56 hours per year and current smokers lost a massive 76.5 hours per year.

Both of these statistics show that smokers are both more likely to take time off and less likely to be productive at work compared to people who don’t smoke. The same results are obtained elsewhere in the world, too, for example, this study from Taiwan showed similar results.

Healthcare Costs and Smoking

If you offer your employees health insurance, the healthcare costs related to smoking are another potential issue for smoking and the energy industry. A study looking at the usage and costs of healthcare in the U.S. from 2006 to 2010 estimates that around 8.7 % of all healthcare spending is for illnesses caused by smoking. This equates to 87 cents out of every $10 spent, and over the whole country this means that $170 billion a year is spent on smoking-related illnesses.

Although most of this expense was borne by programs like Medicaid and Medicare, over a third of this expenditure wasn’t. For any employers offering health insurance to smokers, even though you’re allowed to charge tobacco users more for premiums, this can still impact your finances.

In short, for reasons related to both productivity and healthcare costs, the connection between smoking and the energy industry will end up costing employers just like it costs the smoking employees.

The Risks of Smoking and Why Employees Should be Encouraged to Quit

Most people know about the health risks of smoking, and it’s of vital importance to the issue of smoking and the energy industry. For starters, almost half a million Americans die each year as a result of smoking. Smoking increases your risk of coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times, increases your risk of stroke by 2 to 4 times and increases your risk of lung cancer by a massive 25 to 26 times. Additionally, smokers are over 12 times as likely to die as a result of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) compared to non-smokers.

Unfortunately, this barely scratches the surface of the various risks of smoking, and shows clearly that even without taking financial issues into consideration, all smokers should be encouraged to quit on health grounds alone.

Encouraging Energy Workers to Quit Smoking

With increased absenteeism, less productivity while at work and increased healthcare costs, businesses in the energy industry should do everything they can to help employees quit smoking. There are many ways to do this, from ensuring smoking cessation treatments are covered by your employee health insurance right through to running educational campaigns in your office to encourage quitting.

When it comes to choosing an approach for quitting smoking, using any form of support is better than trying to quit “cold turkey.” Options available include nicotine patches and gums, medications like Chantix or alternative, less harmful products such as smokeless tobacco or e-cigarettes.

It doesn’t matter how they quit, but if we’re going to reduce the issue with smoking and the energy industry, we should do everything we can to encourage quitting.