Workers Who Smoke Take More Sick Leave

April 3, 2007 ( - Smokers take more sick leave than their colleague who don't smoke, according to a survey of Swedish workers, the Denver Channel reported.

The survey of 14,000 workers in Sweden between 1988 and 1991 published in the journal Tobacco Control, found that smokers take 11 days more in sick leave than their non-smoking counterparts, who took 25 days.

The researchers adjusted for the fact that smokers tend to choose riskier jobs and have poorer underlying health, which brought the difference in the number of sick leave days down to eight, rather than 11.

Another survey conducted in the U.S. and released in December 2006 also suggests that that workers who smoke are less productive that workers who don’t, with nearly half of workers who smoke taking between three and six breaks a day (See Survey: Smoke Breaks Burn Up Work Productivity ).

Most of the controversy in the U.S. over employees who smoke centers around health care costs and how far employers should go to curtail them, with some firms going as far as adopting a no-smoking policy (See Ohio Firm Latest to Join Workplace Smoking Crackdown) and some requiring health coverage surcharges from smoking employees (SeePeachStateSlaps on $40 Employee Smoking Surcharge andNorthwest to Kick off Smoker Health Coverage Surcharge ).