Another reason to kick the habit: A new study says you earn less money as a smoker

Smoking Ban Comes Into Effect In England
Getty Images | Matt Cardy

If you’re a smoker looking for another reason to quit, you can add reduced income to your list of incentives to kick the habit.

According to a study published recently by JAMA Internal Medicine, smokers were less likely become employed and earned less money than nonsmokers.

Just how much less? The hourly wage for smokers was about $5 less per hour, on average, than nonsmokers.

The study found that smokers earned $15.10 per hour on average, compared with $20.27 per hour for nonsmokers.

Over a lifetime, that really adds up!

Getty Images | Pascal Le Segretain

The study included 251 participants, consisting of 131 daily smokers and 120 nonsmokers. The results showed that in addition to the wage gap, nonsmokers were 30 percent more likely to be employed after one year compared with smokers.

One reason employers are increasingly wary of hiring smokers is because of the high cost associated with employees who smoke.

“Tobacco use among employees is associated with greater health care costs, unproductive time and absenteeism,” the researchers wrote in the study. “An employee who smokes costs private employers in the United States an estimated excess cost (above that for a nonsmoking employee) of $5,816 per year.”

That’s a lot of money.

Anti-smoking advocates have used the research to try and get the message out that not only is smoking extremely unhealthy, but that it can have a major impact on your finances. Check out the video campaign from that claims that smokers miss out on up to $10,000 a year thanks to their habit.

Get Help To Quit

Writing for the New England Journal of Medicine in 2013, a group of researchers proposed that companies offer support instead of punishing employees for smoking.

“We believe that offering support for healthful behaviors is the best approach. Central in this regard is assisting employees by providing evidence-based smoking-cessation programs, removing cost barriers, facilitating access, and providing necessary psychological counseling and other support. For example, many employers, such as Walgreens, provide free nicotine-replacement therapy and smoking-cessation counseling to employees,” they wrote.

For more information on how to quit smoking, visit

About the Author

Kate Streit

Kate Streit lives in Chicago. She enjoys stand-up comedy, mystery novels, memoirs, summer and pumpkin spice anything. More.

More to explore