Smoking And Career

In an increasingly less smoker-friendly world, all areas of your life are influenced in some way by your choice to smoke. This includes your job prospects and career. Although employers are not allowed to actively discriminate against you because you smoke, they are legally entitled to prevent you from smoking at work. And with good reason - according to statistics provided by the American Lung Association, people who are exposed to tobacco smoke at work are 17 % more likely to develop lung cancer than people who do not come into contact with smoke in their workplace. So, if you smoke at work, it's not just you who suffers.

Daily Impact Of Smoking

Being banned from smoking at work, or being restricted to smoking only in designated areas, affects your performance at work on a daily basis. Not being able to smoke at your desk means more time spent away from your work spot, namely, time spent away from the place where you are most productive. And don't think that those cigarette breaks go unnoticed. Non-smoking colleagues of smokers often feel aggrieved that they are shouldering more than their fair share of the burden of work while smokers are outside having a cigarette. Even some employers think that smokers are less productive at work, and several studies conducted in the workplace have produced evidence to support this belief. Smokers are also more likely to take sick days off work and retire early due to smoking-related illnesses. If your job is particularly stressful and you are the type of smoker who smokes under pressure, you may find that you struggle to concentrate all the way through long meetings or even during job interviews - never a good thing!

The Evidence

A number of studies have found that smoking has a negative impact on your career. The results of one such study were published in 2007 in the Tobacco Control journal. This study focused on a group of women who joined the United States Navy. The group contained daily smokers, non-smokers and occasional smokers. The women's careers were tracked for eight years. At the end of this period, it emerged that the non-smokers had been more successful in their jobs. They achieved higher rank and earned more than their remaining smoker colleagues. We say "remaining" smoker colleagues because it turned out that the smokers were more likely not to complete the length of time they had signed up for. Smokers were also more likely to be demoted or receive a dishonorable discharge.

Another study released in 2001 (also in the Tobacco Control journal), was conducted in the reservations office of an important airline in the United States. Among the airline employees were smokers, non-smokers and occasional smokers. The results of the study showed that the smokers missed a lot more work than the non-smokers. On the positive side, the results also showed that smokers who quit became more productive at work and started taking less time off. In fact, the more time that passed since the former smokers stopped smoking, the more productive the former smokers became.

Help From Your Employer

Many companies now realize that they stand to save money and become more profitable if their employees do not smoke. Some companies are therefore running smoking cessation programs and offer all kinds of support to smoking employees who want to kick the habit. If your employer does not run such a scheme, ask your health care provider what kind of smoking cessation support is available in your area.