Young healthy smokers take significantly more days off work than non-smokers

December 03, 2000

Young healthy people who smoke had substantially more lost work days than their non-smoking colleagues, finds research in Tobacco Control. Men smokers had more lost work days than women smokers, the study showed.

Almost 88,000 men and women on active duty in the US Army were monitored for over two years. The average age of those assessed was 28½, and the sample included men and women of diverse ethnicity, race, and army occupation.

The smokers had more lost work days and were admitted to hospital more frequently than their non-smoking colleagues. Among the men, smoking increased the risk of being admitted to hospital for causes other than injury by almost a third; in women the equivalent increase in risk was 25 per cent. The research showed that former smokers also had higher admission rates than non-smokers. Current smoking could be directly implicated in 7.5 per cent of hospital admissions in men and 5 per cent of those in women.

The risk of lost work days, excluding injury and pregnancy, was increased by 60 per cent among men who smoked and by 15 per cent among women smokers. Over 14 per cent of lost workdays among men and 3 per cent of those among women were directly linked to smoking. The rate of lost work days as a result of injury was also higher among smokers, at 7 per cent among men and 54 per cent among women.

The authors point out that most employment research on smokers has focused on older populations, but that this study shows the adverse effects among young smokers, with the consequent cost implications for employers. "It is remarkable that a single risk factor could account for such a large proportion of hospitalisations and lost workdays, particularly over such a short period of observation," they conclude.
Contact: Major Anthony Robbins, Office for Prevention and Health Services Assessment, Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, USA. Tel: 00 1 210 536 6509; Fax: 001 210 536 6290 Email: Or Professor Simon Chapman, Editor, Tobacco Control, University of Sydney, Australia: Tel: 00 61 2 9351 5203; Email:

[Short term effects of cigarette smoking on hospitalisation and associated lost workdays in a young healthy population] 2000;9:389-96

This release is reproduced verbatim and with permission from the British Medical Association as a service to reporters interested in health and behavioral change. For further information about Tobacco Control or to obtain a copy of the article, please contact Public Affairs Division, British Medical Association, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9JP, Tel: 020 7383 6254 or email: After 6 p.m. and on weekends telephone: +44 (0)208 241 6386 / +44 (0)208 997 3653/+44 (0)208 674 6294 / +44 (0)1525 379792 / +44 (0)208 651 5130.

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health For more research news and information, go to our special section devoted to health and behavior in the "Peer-Reviewed Journals" area of Eurekalert!, For information about the Center, call Petrina Chong, (202) 387-2829.

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