Finding a Job is Harder for A Smoker

Finding a Job is Harder for A Smoker

5/12/16

Finding a Job is Harder for A Smoker

A recent study suggests unemployed smokers have more difficulty finding a job, and tend to earn less money when they find one than their smoke-free counterparts.

Among unemployed people in the San Francisco Bay Area, nonsmokers were 30 percent more likely than smokers to have found a job a year after entering the study, researchers found.

“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,” Judith Prochaska, of the Stanford Prevention Research Center in California, told Reuters Health in an email.

The new study involved 251 unemployed people recruited between 2013 and 2015, including 131 daily smokers and 120 nonsmokers.

Previous research found links between smoking and being unemployed. But those studies can’t say if smoking came before unemployment, or people picked up the habit after losing their jobs.

Of the 217 participants who reported back at one year, about 56 percent of nonsmokers had found a job, compared to about 27 percent of smokers.

After accounting for factors that may also influence employment, like housing, transportation and criminal history, there was still a 24 percent difference in employment after one year between smokers and nonsmokers. Furthermore, among those who found employment, smokers made about $5 less an hour than their nonsmoking counterparts.

The study did not address the reasons for the differences, said Prochaska. But, she added, “One thing we found that suggests an answer was that smokers in our sample tended to place a greater prioritization with regard to their discretionary spending on cigarettes than on aspects that would aid in their job-search, such as costs for transportation, mobile phone, new clothing, and grooming care.”

Prochaska said her team now has the evidence it needs to launch a randomized controlled trial to test if a quit smoking program can reduce the time to reemployment.

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