Smokers take an additional eight days of sick leave a year and are more likely to perform poorly in the workplace compared with non-smokers, according to two new studies published today.

Smokers in Sweden took almost 11 extra days off sick compared with their non-smoking colleagues, researchers at the Free University of Amsterdam found. They analyzed national data on sickness absence in 14,000 workers between 1988 and 1991.

The number was adjusted to account for smokers’ tendency to choose riskier jobs and have poorer underlying health, bringing the difference to just below eight days a year, said the researchers, led by Petter Lundborg.
"The results suggest that policies that reduce and/or prevent smoking may also reduce the number of days of sick leave," Lundborg and colleagues wrote in an article in the U.K. journal Tobacco Control, published by the British Medical Association.

Lundborg recommends further research into the correlation between sick leave and smoking, as factors other than tobacco use may play a part in the absences.

In a second study in Tobacco Control, female smokers performed worse than non-smokers according to an analysis of the career progression of almost 5,500 women entering the U.S. Navy between 1996 and 1997, wrote Terry Conway, a researcher at San Diego State University.

The smokers were more likely to be discharged for medical reasons, bad behavior, misconduct, drug misuse and personality disorders, than non-smokers. They were also more likely to leave before they had served their full term and be paid less.

"Cigarette smoking might simply be a marker for other underlying factors such as non-conformity and high risk-taking, that contribute to poorer performance in the military," Conway wrote in the study.

The study was supported by the U.S. Department of Defense. There are currently around 59,000 women serving in the U.S. Navy.

Via AZ Central

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