Survey: Smoke Breaks Burn Up Work Productivity

December 19, 2006 ( - The amount of time workers spend on smoke breaks at the office may be taking a substantial toll on their productivity, with nearly half of workers who smoke taking between three and six breaks a day, according to a recent survey by the National Business Group on Health.

The survey of 508 employers and 510 employees who smoke also found that more than two-thirds say smoke breaks last between five and 15 minutes, according to

“While we all intuitively know that smokers taking cigarette breaks cuts into their productivity at work, we learned from this survey that the extent of time lost at work due to smoke breaks could be staggering,” says Ron Finch, vice president at the Business Group, according to the news service.

Employers listed smoking as one of their top three employee health priorities, ranking among other concerns such as obesity and high blood pressure. That rising concern has prompted employers to do something to address the problem, with 82% of employers admitting they should take steps to help employees kick the habit.

However, employers and employee differ over how far the company should go to help their workers quit, with employers leaning toward a no-smoking policy and employees saying incentives such as cessation benefits would help them.

Some firms have gone to such lengths as adopting a no-smoking policy, going as far as threatening to fire employees if they don’t comply (SeeOhio Firm Latest to Join Workplace Smoking Crackdown ). Other employers have required health coverage surcharges from employees (See PeachStateSlaps on $40 Employee Smoking Surcharge and Northwest to Kick off Smoker Health Coverage Surcharge ).