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

December 04, 2000

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

Young healthy people who smoke are likely to take more time off work than their non-smoking colleagues, finds research in Tobacco Control. Men smokers took more time off 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 took more time off work 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 taking time off work, excluding injury and pregnancy, was increased to 60 per cent among men who smoked and to 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 risk of time off work 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.
-end-
Contact:
Major Anthony Robbins, Office for Prevention and Health Services Assessment, Brooks Air Force Base, Texas, USA.
anthony.robbins@ophsa.brooks.af.mil

BMJ Specialty Journals

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