By Dr. Dave Hnida

(CBS4) – Quick question: if you don’t smoke, do you think you should get extra vacation days because you don’t take smoking breaks each day?

A valid question when you think about it. Seems a number of people who don’t light up, and don’t take a designated smoking break believe the playing field should be leveled when it comes to time off—or away—from the job.

Here’s the math:

Researchers estimate, on average, that nonsmokers should get at least an extra six days of vacation time since they spend more time on the clock working, not smoking.

And the “six” is a really rough estimate. Seems there is some variability by occupation.

People in tech or retail job spend the equivalent of about 20 days on smoking breaks during the work year.

At the other end, those in real estate spend about 5 days per year lighting up during work hours.

Health care was an interesting one. Smoking breaks here added up to about 16 days per year (or about one hour and three minutes per workday).

And it’s not just time, it’s money that goes up in smoke.

The CDC estimates employers lose about $156 billion per year in lost time and productivity due to smoking related ailments.

Even nonsmokers are costly due to second hand smoke and picking up infections — about $5 billion.

So do you think you should be rewarded if you’re a nonsmoker?

A survey as part of this research shows 25% of nonsmokers believe they deserve some extra time off since they don’t go outside, or to a designated smoking area each day.

On the other hand, 80% of smokers say non-smokers don’t deserve extra paid-time-off.

One company in Japan thought it was a good idea: usatoday.com

What do you think?

(A quick heads-up on the survey—it was conducted by an e-cigarette company—but it does give you something to think, and talk about)

Dr. Dave Hnida is CBS4’s Medical Editor. He blogs about the latest studies and trends in the health world. Read his latest blog entries, check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @drdavehnida

Comments (2)
  1. Colorado law provides that all employees get breaks. If you don’t take your break because you don’t smoke, that’s on you. If the smokers at your business are taking more breaks than the law allows, they should be held to account. Whether you smoke or not, the law allows for one 10 minute break for every four hours worked. What you do on that break is up to the individual.

  2. Cathy Ball says:

    I worked in several organisations and those who smoked definitely got more than an hour a day in smoking breaks, whereas non smokers were expected to carry on with the work! In one place, one person actually went out every hour for 10-15 minute break, trouble was, the manager was a smoker, so nothing said. When jobs came to be reduced, guess who lost out? Non smoker. Case of who you know not what you know.

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