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Smoking in the Workplace: Effects & How to Avoid
Work Wellness

Smoking in the Workplace: Effects & How to Avoid

|Dec 20, 2022

Workplace smoking is considered a stress reliever for millions of employees worldwide. Taking frequent smoking breaks, chatting with colleagues during them, and feeling relieved are common globally. But backed by all research and enough data over the years, smoking is one of the biggest causes of many fatal illnesses. Smoking affects every organ in the body, and while people treat it as a stress reliever by smoking in the office, it greatly damages productivity and impacts motivation to work.

Not only for the employees' health but smokers in the workplace are also a great trouble for employers. According to a study, smoke breaks result in a loss of over $3000 per year wasted in the form of lowered productivity. Although the link between smoking and workplace productivity is not directly seen, many organizations have realized how smoking damages an employee and the organization over time. Here is all you need to know about the effects of smoking in the workplace.

Common Effects of Smoking in the Workplace

Frequent Breaks

Workplace smokers need to take frequent breaks to get their required smoking dose. And, with time, the duration and frequency of these breaks only increase, resulting in a loss of productivity. For example, as an employee gets up to smoke, spends 5 to 7 minutes smoking, and then returns, the whole workflow is interrupted, and hence another 30 minutes are spent getting started at the same pace. This affects work performance and, when seen in the bigger picture, is extremely harmful to the organization and individual's performance.

Frequent Breaks when smoking in the workplace


Smoking regularly is also one of the leading causes of anxiety. Smoking ruins your mental health and gives you constant anxiety, which cannot be controlled. In addition, people who smoke get their surge of nicotine with each inhale, so not being able to smoke for more than a few hours results in anxiety build up and can cause a continuous anxiety problem that worsens over time.

Affects Others

Smoking in the workplace or during break hours also subjects other people who don't smoke to harmful chemicals. This is why workplaces are one of the major places where a person starts smoking and becomes addicted to it. In addition, this secondhand smoke is detrimental to team relationships and interactions as people trying to quit will not spend time with smokers, so team bonding is compromised.

Affects Others when smoking in the workplace

More Sick Leaves

Smokers are more prone to sickness, seasonal flu, and cough as their immune systems weaken. In addition, a person who smokes regularly has a higher chance of catching bacterial and viral infections related to the respiratory system. This results in a greater number of sick leaves by smokers.

Ways to Build a Smoking Policy at Workplace

It is factual to understand that one cannot eliminate the possibility of having 100% non-smoker employees in their organization. Nor can an organization change the years and years of habit of smoking in their employees by putting on some restrictions or building some policies. But with regular practices and a few changes, organizations can encourage a healthy smoke-free lifestyle and take preventive measures to stop smokers' clans from growing from one to the entire crowd. Here are some tips to help control the negatives caused by smoking in the workplace.

Defining Boundaries

No matter how great an organization is, there needs to be ground rules so that employees don't step over and take the work relentlessly. The same is the case when it comes to smoking. Even if you have many smokers in your organization, define some rules according to workplace etiquette. For example, make sure you design a clear non-smoking zone where no one smells of smoke. This helps maintain decorum and keep your organization a smoke-free zone.

Defining Boundaries

Keeping the Environment Clean

Secondhand smoke is harmful and frustrating for people who dread smoking. Moreover, people trying to quit after a rough patch in their life might find it hard to adjust to such an environment where there is a lot of smoking. Hence it is important to invest in the right types of air conditioners and purifiers that keep the air clean and fresh smelling. Opt for a mini air cooler or try to set up a designated cabin area for smokers.

Create Awareness

Send frequent newsletters and emails to your staff members to inform them of the negative impacts of smoking. Additionally, you can hang posters and signage at your workplace. To encourage healthy habits, introduce and implement an employee wellness program at your business. These initiatives may help promote healthier lifestyles among employees. Employers can also set up an employee assistance program to offer their staff members smoking cessation assistance and counseling.

Create Awareness

Encourage Healthy Team Interaction

Most people resort to smoking when they feel challenged and overwhelmed. They use this addiction to relieve stress and depend on the smoke sensation to relax. One way to help quit smoking is by encouraging a positive and interactive work environment. Encourage your employees to bond with each other, have healthy conversations, and talk about things other than work. Work on resolving different types of conflict in the workplace. A healthy workplace is less likely to be a hub of smokers.

Encourage Fitness

Promote regular exercise, meditation, and these other stress-reduction techniques as alternatives to smoking. Organize and reward office fitness and weight-loss contests for motivating employees to get active. Employees will reduce or stop smoking as they get healthier because smoking can lower fitness levels.

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Monetary Rules

For employees who stop smoking, many firms provide cash incentives or other benefits to reward them and encourage others to quit. Additionally, under the Affordable Care Act, premiums for health insurance for smokers may increase by up to 50%. So this rule is also made to make people think about quitting smoking.

Hep During Withdrawal Periods

When smokers try to stop, the withdrawal stage frequently comes with unpleasant side effects, including, to mention a few, weight gain, stress, and sleep issues. Therefore, consider having additional support services like stress management coaching, nutrition counseling, and fitness programs available to increase the likelihood of success.

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