Table 6.6Studies on the association between current smoking and absenteeism

StudyPopulationGroupResultsComments
SmokersNonsmokersPercentage difference
Lowe 19603,341 male General Electric Company employees, EnglandNumber of days absent during the yearNone
Total11.199.814.1
Medical reasons6.595.4920.0
Other reasons4.614.326.7
Holcomb and Meigs 1972226 male factory employeesTotalTotal days lost per person-yearShort-term: <7 days (unverified medical absences)
Long-term: ≥10 days (verified medical absences) during 1956–1964
6.374.4244.1
Absence rate: short-term
0.960.38152.6
Days lost: short-term
1.890.9598.9
Absence rate: long-term
0.100.0742.9
Days lost: long-term
4.483.4729.1
Wilson 19731970 National Health Interview Survey, persons aged ≥17 yearsMean workdays lost per yearNone
Total6.34.443.2
 Men5.83.756.8
 Women7.45.145.1
 17–44 years5.83.852.6
 45–64 years7.25.726.3
 ≥65 years7.74.379.1
Athanasou 1979424 persons, aged 15–67 yearsDuration of sickness absence (days)Nonsmokers included never smokers plus former smokers
Men1.150.6869.1
Women1.051.031.9
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 1980Representative sample of U.S. population aged ≥17 yearsWorkdays lost per year due to illness and injury per currently employed personsNone
1965
 Men5.94.628.3
 Women6.64.837.5
1977
 Men5.94.240.5
 Women6.65.715.8
Janzon et al. 19811,037 Swedish men, aged 47–48 yearsPercent who used sick leave >3 times during the past yearNone
Total134225.0
Smith et al. 1981826 staff members from 12 Australian organizationsMean number of days off workRatio of days off work for smokers compared with nonsmokers
Men1.591.059.0
Women1.361.036.0
Leigh 19831,200 participants in the 1973 Quality of Employment survey, based on a nation-wide probability sampleMean number of absences during the past 2 weeksOR*
Men1.071.07.0
 White collar0.721.0−28.0
 Blue collar1.501.050.0
Women1.891.089.0
 White collar1.231.023.0
 Blue collar2.191.0119.0
Parkes 1983221 nursing students, aged 18–25 yearsMean number of absences during 6 monthsNone
Total3.461.9577.4
Andersson and Malmgren 19861,313 Saab employees, aged 50–59 years, SwedenMean number of days absentNonsmokers included never smokers plus former smokers
Wage earners26248.3
Salaried201625.0
Van Tuinen and Land 1986406 Missouri Department of Health employeesMean hours of sick leave per monthNone
Total5.04.316.3
 Men4.53.721.6
 Women5.44.714.9
Hendrix and Taylor 1987463 U.S. Department of Defense employeesAverage number of sick days in the past 6 monthsNone
Total3.22.910.3
Blake et al. 19881,230 army recruits in basic trainingMean time spent in the clinic for visits related to upper respiratory infections (hours)Not absenteeism per se; military conditions controlled confounding
Total30.617.376.9
Hawker 1988252 female student nursesPercent absent >7 days (yes/no)Nonsmokers included never smokers plus former smokers
Total37.515.0150.0
Dimberg et al. 19892,814 Volvo employees, SwedenAverage days lost in 1 yearNone
Total211450.0
Gallop 1989169 pulp and paper industrial company employeesMean illness absences last yearPayroll records were used to verify self-reported records
Self-reported records
(n = 82)
5.14.124.4
Payroll records10.37.930.4
Manning et al. 1989324 employees of 2 companies, aged 20–75 yearsBaselineMean hours absent per monthShort-term: ≤2 days
Long-term: >2 days
 Short-term2.151.6927.2
 Long-term1.440.7884.6
1-year follow-up
 Short-term1.731.1747.9
 Long-term1.851.6710.8
Batenburg and Reinken 1990907 employees from 4 worksites, employed at least 12 monthsMen by ageSickness absence hoursAuthors noted that male nonsmokers aged ≥50 years had medical conditions predisposing them to absenteeism
 Total3.93.511.4
 <20 years3.73.48.8
 20–29 years4.03.611.1
 30–39 years4.03.321.2
 40–49 years3.62.924.1
 ≥50 years3.94.5−13.3
Women by age
 Total3.63.116.1
 <30 years3.03.1−3.2
 30–39 years3.82.740.7
 ≥40 years4.13.613.9
Jones et al. 19901,893 Johnson & Johnson Company employees, aged 17–45 yearsMean sick hours per yearNone
197949.531.445.2
198052.837.740.1
198154.238.540.8
Ault et al. 19912,406 (subset of 5,000) randomly sampled U.S. families; data were collected in 1967Days absent from workThe association disappeared when the effects of other job characteristics were properly assessed
Total8.376.4929.0
Bertera 199145,976 DuPont employeesMean annual illness daysNonsmokers included never smokers plus former smokers
Total3.692.7932.3
Mean annual illness costs
Total$3,971.27$3,011.2331.9
Low and Mitchell 199130 steel foundry workers, mean age 33.5 yearsMean number of absence episodes during the yearIt is unclear how the total percentage difference could occur, given the results for the number and duration of absence episodes
Total6.05.020.0
Mean duration of episodes in days
Total2.01.0100.0
Total days absent during the year
Total6.09.0−33.3
Green et al. 19925,826 employees of 21 Israeli factories, aged 20–64 yearsMean days lost over 2 yearsThe percentages noted in italics were adjusted for age and occupation (and also present cause-specific data)
Men9.997.4035.0
 20–44 years8.576.4433.1
 45–64 years14.4511.1529.6
Women15.1916.135.8
 20–44 years13.9113.691.6
 45–64 years17.4924.93 −29.8
MenMean days per absence episodes
 20–44 years5.174.6511.2
 45–64 years9.097.5121.0
Women
 20–44 years3.864.04 −4.5
 45–64 years7.077.66 −7.7
Ryan et al. 1992, 19962,537 U.S. Postal Service employeesTotalMean absence rateNone
 1-year follow-up5.44.131.7
 2-year follow-up7.95.836.2
North et al. 199310,314 London civil servants, aged 35–55 years, prospective cohortPeriods of absence: shortAdjusted rate ratios; short-term: unverified medical absences; long-term: verified medical absences
Men1.461.046.0
Women1.091.09.0
Periods of absence: long
Men1.811.081.0
Women1.371.037.0
Halpern and Warner 19941990 U.S. National Health Interview Survey (nationally representative sample)Work-loss days past 2 weeks
Total1.481.048.0OR
Limitations of ability to work
1.271.027.0OR
Post et al. 1994405 workers at an animal feed mill, mean ages 38 years (clerks) and 42 years (blue collar), NetherlandsAbsence prevalence rate
Clerks2.361.0136.0OR
Blue collar1.641.064.0OR
Bush and Wooden 19951989 Australian National Health Survey; n = 21,984 employed persons from randomly selected householdsAny absence 2 weeks before the interviewAdjusted OR; also adjusted for health status and health indicators
Men1.431.043.0
Women1.321.032.0
Tsai et al. 19972,287 Shell Oil Company employees, mean age 36 yearsAverage duration of absence (days)None
Men6.13.574.3
Women6.83.688.9
Morbidity frequency rate
Men28.513.3114.3
Women20.413.254.5
Niedhammer et al. 199812,555 men (aged 40–50 years) and women (aged 35–50 years), prospective cohortPeriods of absenceAdjusted rate ratios
Men1.241.024.0
Women1.261.026.0
Absence days
Men1.451.045.0
Women1.261.026.0
*

OR = Odds ratio.

OR = Odds ratio.

From: 6, Other Effects

Cover of The Health Consequences of Smoking
The Health Consequences of Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General.
Office of the Surgeon General (US); Office on Smoking and Health (US).

NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.