Person holding a cigarette - Nicotine Addiction Affects Work

When you think about tobacco use in the workplace, your attention might divert to its health risks and addictive qualities. But, did you know that smoking and productivity in the workplace are directly tied together? Here is how nicotine addiction affects work productivity and how our team of addiction specialists in Bergen County NJ can help you weather the storm, in kicking your nicotine addiction in the workplace. 

The Unsavory Relationship with Smoking and Workplace Productivity

Tobacco use takes a silent, but powerful toll on employees, and as a result, so does the business that employs them. A variety of studies have shown that tobacco use will not only have a negative impact on worker productivity, but it leads to higher costs from both employers and workers. All of these costs are either direct or hidden, but regardless, they add up quickly.

What Are The Direct Costs Of Tobacco Use In The Workplace?

The following are key examples of what occurs when nicotine addiction affects work productivity and takes a toll on one’s efficiency in the professional setting.


When assessing how nicotine addiction affects work productivity, a common, insidious trend is absenteeism. More specifically, work days lost to illness. On average, smokers have a 31% higher sick-leave rate compared to non-smokers. Additionally, they will have almost three more sick days per year than non-smokers. This lost time wreaks havoc on employee earnings and employer scheduling, especially for businesses that have a shift-lead or supervisor model.


Regular nicotine use also causes something known as presenteeism, otherwise known as loss in productivity when workers are on the job, but are not as effective. So, what is one of the most visible representations of presenteeism? Smoking breaks. Some workers average 8 minutes a day per smoke break, but for high tobacco use industries like construction, the average smoking worker took a total of 73 minutes worth of smoking breaks per day!

Hidden Costs Of Nicotine Use In The Workplace

Let’s take a look at some of the hidden costs of tobacco use:

Property Insurance

It may not be the first thing that people expect when discussing smoking, higher property insurance costs are a reality for workplaces that allow smoking. As a matter of fact, the CDC discovered that fire insurance costs dropped by 25-30% when a workplace is entirely smoke-free.

Secondhand Smoke

Insurance-related costs extend beyond simply property. In workplaces that permit smoking, secondhand smoke is prevalent, with around 20% of non-smoking employees reporting secondhand smoke exposure, at least once per week. Those workers are eligible to file workers’ compensation claims that are related to the health impacts of workplace smoke exposure.


Absenteeism and presenteeism aside, you are also left with the behemoth that is ongoing distractions from nicotine addiction in the workplace. These distractions can be a detriment to a business from a cost perspective. Think of physical-labor jobs like working in warehouses or construction. Employee distraction exponentially increases the chance and risk of workplace accidents occurring.

The Soaring Costs From Tobacco Use

When compounding both hidden and direct costs together, you might be shocked by what the results are. Even outside the work setting, tobacco use from employees is considerably high. The total productivity losses due to tobacco usage in America are estimated at $151 billion per year. Looking at it more closely, studies estimate the excessive costs of tobacco consumption at $5,816 per year, per tobacco-using employee, compared to employees who do not smoke at all. This figure considers everything from absenteeism to higher healthcare costs. Adjusted for inflation, that is over $8000 in 2021 alone. This number can continue to grow as inflation rises and tobacco use remains prevalent. As daunting as these numbers are, there are numerous benefits for companies that work to reverse tobacco use in the workplace. Some would even boast that the results are dramatic.

Reversing The Course Of Tobacco Use With… Addiction Treatment?

While cigarette smokers pale in comparison to known addicts who abuse harder substances, addiction is still addiction, regardless of how you want to look at it. In fact, many ex-addicts will quickly pick up the vape or cigarette, to get their fix in another way. Subconsciously and consciously, they may not even realize that what they are doing is still fueling another type of addictive habit. Despite the fact that efforts are in place to curb nicotine use in the workplace, is that really enough to fix the problem if said person has a larger than life addiction that cannot be controlled so easily? This is where our team at North Jersey Recovery Center can lend a hand. Addressing addiction is so much more than preserving someone else’s bottom line. It’s mostly all about ensuring that you are equipped with the appropriate tools to overcome these struggles, and hopefully stay grounded in your sobriety.

Addressing Nicotine Addiction In The Workplace

North Jersey Recovery Center is here to be your pillar of strength, in the most difficult of times. We have much experience in helping our patients work towards a life of sober-living. For more information on admissions, contact us today!