Researchers have determined that unemployed smokers are less likely to find a job than the non-smokers ones, and when they do, the reemployed are paid less than their smoke-free colleagues. The study links this habit not only to health problems but also to bad economic outcomes as well.
Nonsmokers were 30 percent more likely on average to be reemployed than smokers after a year of entering the study. Even after putting away some smokers subjects that had criminal history, prior treatment for alcohol or drug and other variables, that could have made them less employables, the results still showed a significant difference among the probabilities.
The 30 percent changed to 24 percent, which, according to the results of the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, was still a significant difference. In addition, among the reemployed smokers, the average hourly wage was about $5 less than nonsmokers.
“The health harms of smoking have been established for over 50 years, and now evidence is accumulating that smoking can hurt your success in the workforce and perhaps even lower your pay,” lead author Judith Prochaska, of the Stanford Prevention Research Center in California, said to Reuters.
The team recruited participants in the San Francisco Bay Area and obtained 251 unemployed volunteers between 2013 and 2015, including 131 daily smokers and 120 non-smokers. After a year, about 56 percent of nonsmokers had found a job, while only about 27 percent of the smokers did.
The study does not show a cause and effect discovery, the reasons for the differences were not addressed by the team. Its results just showed a significant link between a factor that could have a role in the unemployed people of the area.
But, Prochaska said that a peculiar thing that her team found was that smokers tended to place a greater prioritization with regard to their discretionary spending on cigarettes than on aspects that would aid their job-search like costs of transportation, mobile phone, new clothing and grooming care.
There is also scientific research that proved the tendency of smokers to take more sick days and the likelihood to be distracted while at work, she added.
However, the findings may not apply to all U.S. areas. She commented that in areas of the country where the smoking prevalence in higher and/or smoking is less restricted in the workforce, the differences may not be as striking.