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Employers pay almost $6,000 more annually for workers who smoke, compared with their nonsmoking colleagues, a new study finds.

The savings occur even after taking into account those smokers who die earlier, and thus collect fewer pension dollars, NBC News reports.

Researchers at Ohio State University evaluated studies on the health care costs of smokers. They looked at how much extra employers paid for smokers’ health care, as well as lost productivity from taking sick days and smoking breaks. They report in Tobacco Control the average annual excess cost to employ a smoker is $5,816.

“It is important to remember that the costs imposed by tobacco use are not simply financial costs,” the researchers wrote. “It is not possible to put a price on the lost lives and the human suffering caused by smoking. The desire to help one’s employees lead healthier and longer lives should provide an additional impetus for employers to work towards eliminating tobacco from the workplace.”

A growing number of employers are requiring tobacco users to pay more for their health insurance if they do not participate in a smoking cessation program, a national survey recently found. Some employers are refusing to hire smokers.


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