August 4, 2008

Cigarettes are Bad for Your Business…But Peanut Butter Cups are Perfect!

By Paul Bieber

Of course I am prejudiced, I don’t smoke and I do eat peanut butter cups.

Now that I have that disclaimer out of the way: smoking is bad for everyone’s health and is very bad for your business. If your state bans smoking in indoor places, enforce it in your business. If the decision is yours, implement a no-smoking policy as soon as you can.


Smoking costs you, the owner, a ton of money. Here’s why—

•Lost Productivity. A smoker will spend 10-15 minutes per day lighting up, looking for ash trays, pausing with that first puff, and taking two minutes talking with each person that comes over to borrow a cigarette.

•Safety. Two men are carrying a 72 x 100 mirror. The one with the cigarette let’s it fall from his lips, hitting himself on the knee. The natural instinct is to brush the ash off before it burns him. OOPS…a broken mirror at best and a cut on the other guys forearms at the worst. You can’t yell out a warning if your lips are stuck around a cigarette. You are not looking at your surroundings if you are lighting a cigarette. Cigarette butts all over the floor present a slip factor. Driving your company van and lighting up will cause higher accident rates

•Higher Insurance Rates. Your health insurance will be higher as you will have higher claims. Many auto insurance policies give a Non-Smokers discount of up to 10%. Most life insurance companies give a significant discount to non-smokers. Studies have proven that a smoker takes longer to recover from an injury or operation. The longer an employee is out, the higher is your worker’s comp premium. Your property insurance carrier may give you a discount if your property is a non-smoking facility.

•The Bucks. A smoker who does a pack a day spends, on average, $35.00 a week. If your employee stopped smoking and kept this money, this is equivalent to $1820 after tax, about $2400 pre-tax, or about $1.25 an hour. Save a couple of hundred on personal insurances, save on dry cleaning and replacing clothes with burn holes, and the average one-pack-a-day smoker saves about $2.00 an hour. By working on smoking cessation programs, some of your employees will be getting more take-home money, which means less pressure on you for wages.

•Image. The image of a smoking installer at Mrs. Jones house, with her white rug, should scare the heck out of you.

•Hiring. You will hire better people if you advertise yourself as a smoke-free business. Who wants to work around other smokers, unless they are smokers themselves?

•Health. If you are alive, you know that smoking is not good for your health. If you help people stop smoking, you get a gold star for your forehead, and a happier and healthier work force. Savings are OK, but it is even better to make your work force healthy.

Are you convinced yet? If you, as the owner smoke, then by quitting and setting the example, you become the hero and will feel better in the morning. No medical photos here, you know what smoking does.

Next week I’ll go over a couple of ways to introduce cessation programs in any type of business. Peanut butter cups, however, are worth the calories and don’t affect the lungs.