Calls for workplaces to ban smoking over economy fears0:27
There are calls for workplaces to ban smoking altogether, with new research finding tobacco use could have a bigger impact on the economy than its direct cost to health care. Researchers from Monash University have found smoke breaks, second-hand smoke exposure and absent staff are all costing the economy $388 billion in lost productivity. Cancer Council Queensland says the study reinforces the need to strengthen tobacco laws.
THE days of the smoko could be numbered after new research revealed the monumental impact smoking has on work productivity.
The study, published in The BMJ, found that smokers could cost the economy a massive $388 billion over the course of the working lives of the current population.
The results prompted Cancer Council Queensland to call for a ban on smoking in the workplace to “reduce the burden” of smoking in Australia.
“Having a smoke-free workplace not only improves the health of those that smoke, but this will increase productivity and protect employees from being exposed to second-hand smoke,” Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan said.
“A smoke-free workplace also provides a supportive environment for people that smoke to reduce their habit, or quit altogether.”
Monash University researchers found that not only do smokers take a higher number of sick days on average compared to nonsmokers, but that they also have more unproductive hours while at work.
The results showed that nonsmokers experienced an average of 1.8 unproductive days in the workplace, while smokers had 3.2 days.
These unproductive days, referred to as presenteeism, are often the result of being sick or injured while at work, with the numerous health risks associated with smoking contributing to the increased numbers.
Smokers dying prematurely due to smoking-related diseases, lost time due to smoke breaks and second-hand smoke exposure were other factors that led to the staggering estimated economic impact.
Lead researcher Dr Alice Owen told www.yya1n.com.cn that the results prove how important campaigns to help people quit smoking really are.
“The magnitude of the potential lost productivity due to smoking was quite alarming,” she said.
“It really does highlight that the strategies we put in place to discourage people taking up smoking, and encourage and assist people to quit, are ‘an investment’.”
As well as the negative economic impact, the study calculated that three million years of life would be lost from the current population as a result of smoking, which increased to six million when the quality-adjusted years of life were taken into account.
Dr Owen said that, while smoking is legal, putting restrictions on it in the workplace can assist in substantially reducing that economic impact.
“Smoke-free work environments assist in encouraging quitting and discouraging people from taking up smoking. They also minimise the ‘side-stream’ impact of smoking on others,” she said.
“This is good for the health of all employees. But we also need to support smokers to quit.”
Policies like smoke-free zones and graphic packaging on cigarettes are steps that have been taken to reduce smoking in Australia, but Dr Owen said more needs to be done.
“In Australia we have made good headway in reducing the smoking rates over the past 30 years, but we need to continue to try to reduce it further, for the health of smokers, and the health of our broader economy,” she said.
“The investments we have made in tobacco control measures need to continue.”
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