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Effect of Smoking Status on Productivity Loss

Bunn, William B. III MD, JD, MPH; Stave, Gregg M. MD, JD, MPH; Downs, Kristen E. MSPH; Alvir, Jose Ma. J. DrPH; Dirani, Riad PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: October 2006 - Volume 48 - Issue 10 - p 1099-1108
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000243406.08419.74
Original Articles

Objective: The objective of this study was to describe health-related productivity losses in nonsmokers, former smokers, and current smokers using a large, cross-sectional database of U.S. employees.

Methods: Volunteers completed the Wellness Inventory, an instrument measuring productivity losses related to 11 health conditions affecting employee health. Results are aggregated, dollarized, and reported by smoking group.

Results: Current smokers missed more days of work and experienced more unproductive time at work compared with former smokers and nonsmokers. The average annual cost for lost productivity for nonsmokers was $2623/year compared with $3246/year for former smokers and $4430/year for current smokers. More than half the costs were due to unproductive time at work.

Conclusion: Current smokers incurred the highest productivity losses, which translated into higher costs to employers for current smokers. Costs were lower for former smokers and nonsmokers.

From Northwestern University (Dr Bunn), Warrenville, Illinois; Duke University (Dr Stave), Durham, NC; Relevant Health Outcomes, Inc. (Ms Downs), Portland, OR; and Pfizer, Inc. (Dr Alvir, Dr Dirani), New York, NY.

Support provided by Pfizer, Inc.

Address correspondence to: William B. Bunn III, MD, JD, MPH, Professor of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern School of Medicine, Vice President of Health Safety Security and Productivity, International Truck and Engine, 4201 Winfield Road, P.O. Box 1488, Warrenville, IL 60555; E-mail:

©2006The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine