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The benefits of a smokefree workplace

There's a growing amount of evidence to show how much an employee who smokes costs a business (more than $2000 a year - see p36 of the report) and the benefits of helping your people give up.

Employees who smoke take more sick leave for general ill-health and smoking-related illnesses. And as the typical person who smokes takes 4x10-minute cigarette breaks a day, they work a whole month less a year than a non-smoking worker, taking a serious chunk out of a business' profits.

While the law says indoor workplaces must be smokefree, employees can still smoke in outdoor work areas and some work vehicles (not taxis).

However, an organisation can enforce a smokefree workplace policy.

Why have a smokefree workplace policy

Introducing a smokefree policy in the workplace benefits businesses through:

  • reduced absenteeism
  • increased productivity
  • decreased early retirement due to ill-health
  • reinforced commitment to a healthier workplace
  • raised awareness of smoking harm, which gets employees thinking about quitting or cutting down
  • lower risk of fire damage, explosions and other incidents related to smoking
  • lower fire insurance premiums
  • lower healthcare premiums if there’s a workplace health insurance scheme
  • lower cleaning and office maintenance costs
  • workers don't take breaks to smoke, so increasing productivity (they're also forced to cut down, which should help improve their health)
  • having a smokefree policy also protects non-smoking workers from second-hand smoke, helping to keep all workers healthy.

Return on investment

Businesses that invest in helping their people quit (with support mechanisms that are usually low or even no cost) can enjoy healthy returns.

Based on overseas studies, a 2009 New Zealand report estimated that a workplace that helps its workers quit can see returns of about $3.26 - $9.87 per dollar spent on smoking cessation.

However, these returns could be even higher in New Zealand with the availability of free Quitline services and heavily subsidised nicotine replacement therapy.

How much is smoking costing your business? Find out by using Quitline’s calculator.

Want to create a totally smokefree workplace policy? Check out the Northland Intersectoral Forum's guide to creating a smokefree workplace.

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