Smoking Cessation Programs Can Provide Near-term ROI for Employers

by Amir Goren | Jun 29, 2018
Co-authored by Vicky Li

Quitting smoking may be good for a company's bottom line, regardless of how recently a company's employees quit and took steps toward living a healthier and more productive lifestyle. This is a key finding of a recent smoking cessation study conducted by Kantar Health and Pfizer. These findings are especially important, given that companies can be reluctant to invest in smoking cessation programs for their employees in light of high turnover rates in today's job market and corresponding expectations for low ROI on smoking cessation initiatives, with the risk of employees quitting their job before the benefits of quitting smoking are realized.

Our research quantified differences between current and former smokers in indirect costs due to decreased work productivity. Using data on employed individuals in Kantar Health's National Health and Wellness Survey, we calculated indirect costs for current smokers and former smokers using weekly wage estimates based on age and sex. The strength of our study lies in its insight into quitting smoking based on reported duration of quitting, as well as assessing the corresponding work-related costs and potential improvement with time since smoking cessation.

Based on years since quitting smoking, we found that current smokers had significantly greater absenteeism, presenteeism, and total annual indirect costs compared with the former smoker groups, independent of the number of years since quitting smoking. For example, estimated annual total indirect costs for current smokers were $1,327.53 higher than for those who quit 0 to 4 years prior; $1,560.18 higher than for those who quit between 5 and 10 years prior; and $1,839.87 higher than for those who quit more than or equal to 11 years prior. Compared with weighted average annual costs for all former smokers, annual costs for current smokers were estimated to be $512.29 higher for absenteeism, $1,247.47 higher for presenteeism, and $1,606.37 higher for total indirect costs.

Our study provides evidence that smoking poses a substantial economic burden on employers, in terms of increased indirect costs from lost productivity. This burden suggests an unmet need for better treatments and other interventions to help current smokers quit smoking. Moreover, there are near-term benefits for companies to gain by financially supporting smoking cessation initiatives, as getting employees to kick their habit may offer immediate benefits measured by fewer absences, healthier employees, and higher work productivity.

Please take a look at our study: Smoking Cessation is Associated with Lower Indirect Costs. And, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me directly at amir.goren@kantarhealth.com.

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