A recent study found that the average smoker in America takes the equivalent of 6 work days per year on cigarette breaks, or more than a full work week. In response to this news, a lot of non-smokers are pushing back. The data suggests non-smokers want an adjustment and believe they should be compensated with additional vacation days. Surprisingly, a large chunk of smokers even supports this.
The study was conducted by electronic cigarette maker Halo who surveyed 1,005 adult workers across America. One of the more interesting aspects of this study is that people in the Medical and Health Care field had the highest rate of thinking ‘smoke breaks are fair’, presumably that’s because by working in that field they’re familiar with the pitfalls of addiction.
A lot of non-smokers believe they should be compensated in vacation days for the time they’re forced to work when their coworkers who smoke are taking 6 work days a year on cigarette breaks. Many think 3-5 days is the appropriate amount. Some think 1-2 extra days. Others think the full 6 days is appropriate. Here’s what the study found:
— 81.2% of smokers believe smoke breaks are fair
— 74.8% of non-smokers believe smoke breaks are unfair
— 38.2% of smokers don’t think non-smokers should get any extra vacation days
— 17.4% of smokers think non-smokers should get 1-2 extra days
— 28% of smokers think non-smokers should get 3 to 5 extra days
— 16.4% of smokers believe non-smokers should get 6 or more extra days
— 19.9% of non-smokers think they should get 0 extra days
— 24.6% of non-smokers think they should receive 1-2 extra days
— 41.9% of non-smokers believe 3 to 5 extra vacation days is appropriate
— 13.6% of non-smokers believe 6 or more extra vacation days is appropriate
I’m not entirely sure where I stand on this. Would I take extra vacation days because I’m a non-smoker? Hell yes, I would. But I used to smoke (quit years ago) and recognize the power of nicotine addiction.
If the goal here is to incentivize smokers to quit smoking cigarettes then offering more vacation days might get them to quit. Heck, it would’ve gotten me to quit earlier. But that takes us down a path of having to drug test workers for nicotine and that’s not ever going to happen. So we’d ultimately be forced to test this out on the honor system because smokers could just cut out smoke breaks at work and take the extra vacation days without getting the health benefits.
So, if we put the health aspect of this aside and go strictly based on time gained/lost in the workplace then, yes, I think non-smokers should receive the full 6 days in vacation day compensation. Just treat break time like a vacation where you accrue those hours over time from working and the worker can use them whenever and however they want. If you’ve got 48 hours in breaks accrued then you should be able to take those consecutively on vacation.