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Cost of smoking in workplace revealed

Smoking breaks and additional sick leave are costing UK businesses £8.7 billion in lost productivity every year, according to new research published ahead of No Smoking Day next Wednesday (March 12).

Smoking breaks cost employers £1,815 a year for each full-time member of staff who lights up during working hours, according to a study for the British Heart Foundation, carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

The study shows the average smoker takes four smoking breaks a day, lasting for around ten minutes.

Smokers also take nearly a day more of sick leave a year on average compared to their non-smoking colleagues.

The research suggests cigarette breaks cost employers £1,815 a year for each full-time worker who smokes.

With smokers accounting for around one in five of the UK workforce, smoking breaks and related illness is having a huge impact of the heart health of millions of workers as well as the bottom lines of the nation’s businesses.

Smoking remains the UK’s number one cause of preventable illness and premature death, killing 100,000 people a year. About half of long-term smokers eventually die of a tobacco related disease.

Lisa Purcell, Manager of the BHF’s Health at Work programme, said: “This research shows that not only is smoking extremely damaging to people’s heart health, it’s also damaging to the health of businesses at a time when every penny counts. Both should be a huge concern for business owners and managers.

“But many smokers are calling out for their employer’s support in helping them to give up. On No Smoking Day, we estimate a million people will attempt to quit. By taking part, employers could help their workers make the most valuable lifestyle change to improve their heart health, while also increasing the productivity of their business.”

The BHF is calling on employers to join thousands of organisations in running No Smoking Day events on March 12. For more information and free resources, log on to