34 million working days lost every year due to smoking-related sick leave

How e-cigarettes could be the answer to loss of productivity caused by smoking breaks.

Around 34 million working days are lost every year due to smoking related sick leave. This can have a massive impact on small businesses. Compared to non-smokers, people who smoke are absent from the workplace up to 50 per cent more often. On average every year 100 working hours are lost every single year from smoking breaks. Since the UK smoking ban introduced in 2007 if employees wish to smoke they have to leave the office or building where they are working and smoke outside. For regular smokers this means frequent trips out of the office which over a year add up to hours spent away from their desk. How do employers manage this loss of productivity and time they are paying employees to be working? 

Could electronic cigarettes be the answer? Electronic cigarettes re battery powered devices which vaporise a water-based e-liquid and replicate the act of smoking. E-cigarettes do not contain any tobacco and contain considerably less of the known harmful chemicals that are released when burning tobacco in traditional cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes contain very low levels of nicotine and you can choose from a range of e-liquid solutions with varying amounts of nicotine content starting from no nicotine.

Electronic cigarettes release a water based vapour, no smoke or tobacco are released which means there is no risk of passive smoking. The fact that there are no dangers to other people from second hand smoke when vaping mean they could potentially allow employees to vape at their desk cutting out the need for smoking breaks and therefore saving the employer time and money.

Vaping is becoming an increasingly popular sight in the UK; according to the BBC the number of people using electric cigarettes is set to hit 1 million this year. So could electronic cigarettes signal an end to outdoor smoking breaks during office hours?

Frequent smoking breaks taken by employees can have a huge effect on small businesses. Not only do smoking breaks disrupt the working environment it can affect productivity and working efficiency. If employees could vape in the office the amount of hours saved and subsequently working days reclaimed from not having to leave the office would benefit the employer hugely. A reduction in outdoor smoking breaks means less interruptions and a more productive working space for the whole office.

A study by the University of Nottingham found that smokers on average take 2.7 more sick days than non-smokers each year and cost UK industry £1.4 billion in lost productivity. The cost of sick days to small businesses can result in a huge loss of productivity and profit. Vaping could provide an alternative solution to smoking during work time. Vaping is legal indoors if agreed by the building; it is at their individual discretion. As the number of people using electric cigarettes increase are they going to become a more common sight in the workplace?

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