Smokers waste 5 weeks a year taking smoke breaks, survey shows

Published: Mar. 8, 2012 at 9:32 PM EST|Updated: Apr. 7, 2012 at 8:32 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A new survey shows that people who smoke spend an average of five weeks a year taking smoke breaks at work.

The research, conducted by an electronic cigarette retailer in the UK, polled nearly 500 people and found 30% of those people spent more than an hour each day smoking.

This equals more than half a working day per week. Factor out three weeks vacation and two weeks of holidays and you're looking at more than 200 hours a year  - or more than five typical working weeks - wasted.

A spokesman from the site says the figures make grim reading for business bosses around the country.

"The cigarette break, just like the coffee break, has been part of office culture for more than a century and many employers and employees alike take them for granted," he said. "However, when you actually look at the amount of working hours wasted as staff make their way outside to smoking areas several times a day, it shows just how much they can effect productivity.

He continued, "The most prolific smokers we polled were found to waste around five hours per week on cigarette breaks, which is longer than taking every Friday afternoon off. Add that up throughout a typical employment year and this equates to five weeks or more than a full working month off, which is staggering.

And that's just for casual smokers.

One out of 12 smokers, labeled as heavy smokers, admit to smoking nearly 30 cigarettes – an average of two and a half hours a day on break.  That's more than 14 weeks a year!

"Another problem the breaks cause is the resentment which can often be harboured by non-smokers who feel they are doing more work than their smoker colleagues, which is never good for team spirit or morale," the spokesman continued.

The poll also found the actual number of cigarettes consumed during working hours varied widely, with the majority of smokers (41%) puffing away on between 10 and 20 cigarettes a day.

More than half of those quizzed said they spent between 20 to 60 minutes each day smoking, with just 13% taking less than 20 minutes for their cigarette breaks.

Nearly all of the workers polled (91%) admitted that they would be more productive in their roles if they were able to use smoking alternatives such as an electronic cigarette, which are exempt from smoking bans and can therefore be used in the workplace.

A similar study from Ireland in 2009 estimated smokers waste an average of seven and a half weeks a year.

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