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Tobacco and Tobacco Cessation

Why Employers Care

Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States.1 Data shows that smoking accounts for 3.1 million years of potential life lost for males and approximately 2 million years for females annually.2 Coupled with this enormous health toll is the significant economic burden of tobacco use. A smoker costs a private employer in the US an extra $5,816 per year compared with a nonsmoker.3 This dollar amount includes increased health care expenses, more frequent breaks, increased absenteeism and lost productivity for a smoker.

The impact of smoking is not limited to the employee. Fifty-four percent of children aged 3-11 years are exposed to secondhand smoke.1 Children living with adults who smoke in the home have more days absent from school per year than children living with nonsmokers.4 Caregivers' time tending children absent from school is valued at $227 million per year.4

What Can Employers Do?

Employers have many options to support tobacco-free living for employees, including:

  • Offering smoking cessation programs (78% of large employers already do), and adding incentives,5
  • Offering a health insurance premium discount to nonsmokers
  • Enacting policies for smoke-free workplaces and campuses
  • Banning e-cigarettes from workplaces and campuses
  • Providing an HSA contribution for nonsmoking employees or reducing the HDHP deductible for nonsmoking employees

Relevant Tools and Resources Include:



For Global Business Group on Health (GBGH) [formerly Global Health Benefits Institute (GHBI)] members, please click here for GBGH-specific tobacco materials. The Global Business Group on Health provides practical tools, guidance on best practices, and a networking forum for peer global companies to address the healthcare challenges encountered by member corporations and their employees outside of the United States. Please click here for more information.


References (show references)

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tobacco Use: Targeting the Nation's Leading Killer. 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/pdf/2011/Tobacco_AAG_2011_508.pdf. Accessed February 24, 2012.

2 Adhikari B, Kahende J, Malarcher A, Pechacek T, Tong V. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses. Oncology Times. Vol.31 Issue 2. 2009.pp 40, 42, 43. http://journals.lww.com/oncology-times/Fulltext/2009/01250/Smoking_Attributable_Mortality,_Years_of_Potential.16.aspx. Accessed February 24, 2012.

3Berman M, Crane R, Seiber E, Munur M. Estimating the cost of a smoking employee. Tobacco Control. June 2013.
http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2013/05/25/tobaccocontrol-2012-050888. Accessed August 15, 2013.

4 Levy D. Winickoff J, Rigotti N. School Absenteeism Among Children Living With Smokers. Pediatrics Vol. 128 No. 4.2011.pp. 650 -656. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/4/650.full. Accessed February 24, 2012.

5 16th Annual Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care. The Road Ahead - Shaping Health Care Strategy in a Post-Reform Environment. 2011. http://www.towerswatson.com/assets/pdf/3946/TowersWatson-NBGH-2011-NA-2010-18560.pdf. Accessed February 24, 2012.

Page last updated: March 25, 2014

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