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Can smoking affect your career prospects? Explore this article to find out if smoking affects your career prospects. Cigarette smoking is known to be harmful to your health, as well as those around you and the environment. Can it also impact your career prospects?

Can Smoking Affect Your Career Prospects?

By Elliot Owens

Cigarette smoking is known to be harmful to your health, as well as those around you and the environment. However, a recent Human Relations study explores how smoking can also affect your career prospects. According to this study, applicants classified as smokers were deemed as less qualified on unrelated attributes as soon as the interview started. The same discriminatory initial assessments were observed for both cigarette smokers and vapers, but the phenomenon was more pronounced for cigarette smokers specifically.

The study explores the stigmatisation that comes with public health issues, as employers may discriminate against applicants with a smoking or vaping habit as they do applicants with surface-level cues such as body piercings and tattoos. While the study used video-based interview simulations, it highlighted a present bias among employers, as early impressions of smokers persisted through the interview to impact final assessments.

Below, we’ll take a closer look at why smoking may impact employers’ perception of applicants who smoke and share some tips for achieving cessation to potentially better your career path:

Smoking and productivity

One of the reasons employers may be hesitant to hire smokers is the potential productivity cost. A Health and Wellness piece on employee tobacco use — which you can access here — explores the economic costs of cigarette smoking and how that may impact employer and business decisions. For example, a meta-review from 2020 found that people who smoke averaged a 31% higher rate of sick leaves compared to non-smokers. This was consistent regardless of gender, age, and occupation.

Since smoking is a known public health issue, it shouldn’t be surprising that smoking increases both the risk and number of sickness absence days. Of course, absenteeism is only one side of the coin. Presenteeism, or the lost productivity when workers are on the job but are less effective due to poor health, is expensive. Another 2020 study of over 60,000 employees found that heavy smoking was a significant factor in increased presenteeism.

Frequent smoke breaks and the unhealthy mix of absenteeism and presenteeism increase business costs exponentially, affecting productivity in the workplace while potentially exposing other non-smoking workers to the dangers of secondhand smoke. As such, employers may be wary of hiring smokers.

Employers may consider other factors when dealing with applicants who smoke, such as the cost of workplace cleaning and maintenance and the increased chances of fire risk. Depending on the occupation, smokers are also more prone to increased accidents and injuries due to the physical effects of smoking.

Quitting smoking

Given the various factors that may impact your chances of landing a job, quitting your smoking may be worth it. Aside from benefiting from a healthier body, employers will also be more willing to hire you. Fortunately, many products are available today to help ease your transition and cessation journey.

Oral nicotine products are smoke-free and easy to use. Nicotine pouches have become a popular go-to among this category of products. You can choose from various tobacco-free nicotine pouches from known brands like ZYN and Velo. These pouches come in multiple flavours, including wintergreen, citrus, and cinnamon, providing a discreet smoke alternative. These pouches are also tobacco-free – this site reveals the common ingredients used in the product, which includes plant-based fillers and flavourings. Today, smokers and ex-smokers use these pouches to help keep cravings at bay and handle withdrawal symptoms.

Other nicotine products you can purchase online include nicotine gum — one of the oldest forms of nicotine replacement therapy. Based on insights from this report, the nicotine gum market is expected to reach US$2 billion by 2030. The growth of the market is supported through online distribution channels, making these smoke-free nicotine products more accessible for those looking to quit and manage their cravings.

Aside from countering cigarette cravings, it can also help to reduce potential smoking triggers like stress. Our previous post on combatting work stress — which you can read here — highlights the importance of maintaining good eating and sleeping habits to minimise your sick days while boosting productivity. By properly managing your stress levels, you are less likely to resort to cigarettes to cope or as a distraction. Additionally, keeping yourself fit by exercising regularly can keep you energised and improve your mood, contributing to a healthier working culture overall.

Now that you have explored if smoking affects your career prospects, what can you add? Leave your comments or insights below.

Catherine Adenle
Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.
Catherine Adenle
Catherine Adenle

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