Smoking Can Harm Your Health And Your Job Prospects, Study Says

By Valerie Tejeda 04/13/16

The study also found that smokers who did find work earned around $5 an hour less than their non-smoking coworkers. 

Smoking Can Harm Your Health And Your Job Prospects, Study Says
Photo via Shutterstock

It’s no secret that smoking cigarettes can do major damage your health. But according to new research, smoking can also hurt your bank account and your chances of nailing a job. 

Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a new study found that tobacco smokers looking for work were less likely to get employed compared to those who didn’t smoke. On top of that, the folks who did find a new job ended up earning less money then their nonsmoking peers—as much as $8,300 less per year. 

"There's been good knowledge of the harms of smoking in terms of health, but it's also important to appreciate the fiscal harms of tobacco use," said the study’s lead author Judith Prochaska, of the Stanford University School of Medicine in California. 

Prochaska, along with a team of co-authors examined a group of 251 unemployed participants from Marin County and San Francisco County over a 12-month period. Among the participants were 131 daily smokers and 120 nonsmokers, of a range of different ages, races and education levels across the board with 65.7% being male, and the average age being 48.  

After a year, the results showed only 27% of smokers had landed work, compared to the 56% of nonsmokers who had found jobs. And if that’s not enough motivation to quit, the smokers who did find work earned around $5 an hour less at $15.10 per hour, compared with $20.27 per hour for nonsmokers. And when you add that all up, that comes out to smokers earning $8,300 less a year, at an average of 32 hours per week. 

The study didn’t determine exactly why smoking led to fewer job offers and lower pay, but Prochaska believes multiple factors could be contributing to the problem. 

"We didn't directly assess what's accounting for this relationship, but we did ask those in the smoking group to rate how they prioritize their discretionary spending—so after their rent, basic food needs, and such have been accounted for, how do they prioritize their remaining funds," she told CBS News. "We found that tobacco was the most highly prioritized item, ahead of things like transportation costs or grooming needs or new clothing."

Researchers hope the study will be used by employment agencies to raise awareness of how using tobacco can influence careers, and also to offer the proper cessation services to encourage job seekers to quit the habit.

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
valerie tejeda.jpg

Entertainment journalist and author Valerie Tejeda spends her days reporting on books, television, and all things pertaining to pop culture, and spends her nights writing novels for teens. Her stories have appeared on a variety of different publications, including but not limited to: VanityFair, MTV, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, She Knows, Latina, The Fix,, Cosmopolitan, and more. You can find Valerie on Linkedin and Twitter.