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Smoking can cost both employee and employer money

PHOENIX — Young professionals who smoke could cost their employers thousands of dollars each year.

“Employers, whether they own a diner or run a complex business, take notice of employees who smoke,” Erica Lesus, an Arizona-based human resources professional said. “There are health care and productivity costs to consider when it comes to hiring people who smoke, and because of that, some companies have gone as far as forgoing employing smokers.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that smoking costs the United States economy $156 billion in lost productivity a year.

“Smoke breaks cost people money,” Courtney Ward, chief of the Office of Tobacco Prevention and Cessation for the Arizona Department of Health Services, said. “They don’t only cost the company money but they cost co-workers money.”

On average, an employee who takes a single, eight-minute smoke break everyday costs their employers $1,640 per year. That increases to $3,077 per year, if an employee takes two, 15-minute smoke breaks everyday.

Ward said co-workers often have to fill in for smokers while they take a break and get their fix.

“That’s time that your co-workers are spending covering for you — covering phones, covering emails and letting people know where you are,” she said. “It is definitely eating up time and time is money.”