Cigarette smokers tend to believe their smoking improves their job performance. This is due to the temporary, stimulating effects of the nicotine. In reality, studies show that smoking leads to poor job performance.
Hazardous Health Effects of Smoking
We all know that smoking cigarettes is very detrimental to one’s health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for an estimated 443,000 deaths (though this number is heavily disputed), or nearly one of every five deaths, each year in the United States. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. Those who smoke are more likely to suffer cardiovascular disease, serious respiratory damage, and cancer.
Smoking and Job Performance
Smoking can have short term stimulating effects on the brain, but once that effect wears off, workers become stressed, need another smoke break, or lose focus. Additionally, smokers often take longer breaks from work than non-smokers.
Studies done in the United States and Sweden have confirmed that smoking affects work performance. Both studies suggest that smoking is associated with more disabilities, reduced productivity, more absenteeism, and frequent and longer work breaks in both civilian and military people involved in the studies.
The Swedish study was conducted in 2007 and suggests that smokers take more sick days off from work than do non-smokers. The results showed that Swedish smokers took an average of 11 more sick days a year than non-smokers.
The United States study found significantly worse on-the-job performance by female smokers enlisting in the United States Navy compared to non-smokers. The study—led by Terry Conway, professor of psychology at San Diego State University—found that the 27 percent of women who were daily smokers when they enlisted were much less likely to serve their full eight-year term than the 45 percent who had never smoked and the 28 percent who were former smokers or only smoked occasionally. They also found that smokers in the military were more likely to be demoted or dishonorably discharged than non-smokers.
Smoking Cessation and Job Performance
Quitting smoking can be very beneficial in the long run, but trying to quit can have short-term negative effects on job performance as well. Withdrawal from nicotine can cause stress and lack of focus, and withdrawal symptoms can last for two-to-three weeks.
In order to stay motivated while quitting, it is important to keep the long-term benefits in mind. These benefits will include improved health, less absenteeism, and better work productivity. And these benefits far outweigh the joys of smoke breaks.
- “Health effects of cigarette smoking.” CDC. 10 January 2012. Web. 28 January 2013.
- Ridenour, Melissa. “Smoking and job performance.” Suite 101. 14 February 2011. Web. 28 January 2013.