Secondhand Smoke Is Bad for the Bottom Line
Reasons to seek remedies for secondhand smoke include not only concern for the well-being of workers and conformity with legal requirements. In addition, there are sound economic reasons to establish smokefree workplaces.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that operation and maintenance costs would be reduced by $4 to $8 billion annually, if smoking were eliminated in most indoor environments.75
Secondhand smoke at work harms the health and reduces the productivity of nonsmoking employees. Kristein estimated that the annual costs of smoking to the average employer, in January 1980 dollars, ranged from $336 to $601 per average smoking employee. Kristein further noted “in general, the emphasis is on the underestimating of the costs to business.”76
In its 1990 “Smoking Cessation Statistics” Kaiser Permanente Medical Group of Southern California estimated that each smoker costs their employer $4,789 per year.77
75 US Environmental Protection Agency. The Costs and Benefits of Smoking Restrictions: An Assessment of the Smoke-Free Environment Act of 1993. (H. R. 3434). Office of Air and Radiation, Washington, DC: U.S. EPA, April 1994.
76 Kristein, M. How much can business expect to profit from smoking cessation? Preventive Medicine 12:358-381, 1983.
77 Unions Working Together Towards a Tobacco-Free 2000: Implications and Innovations. San Diego, CA: Labor’s Community Service Agency, May 1993.