Employees, Smoking = Less Money

Smokers will hate to hear this, but if you smoke, you’re more likely to make less money.




“In a new paper, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta economists Julie Hotchkiss and Melinda Pitts found that smokers only earn about 80 percent of what nonsmokers earn. People who used to smoke and quit more than a year earlier, though, earn 7 percent more than people who never lit up in the first place.

The PSA advice that “one cigarette is one too many” apparently is true at work. Hotchkiss and Pitts found that the earnings of both a weekend social smoker and a pack-a-day puffer suffer a similar wage gap.

“It is simply the fact that someone smokes that matters in the labor market, not the level of intensity,” they wrote. “Even one cigarette per day is enough to trigger the smoking wage gap.”

That truly sucks, because those of you who know me, know I love hanging out with smokers!  Smokers are the backbone of your informal office communication network.  Smokers come in all shapes and sizes, from all levels of your organization.  It’s nothing on any given day to see a senior executive and some rank and file employee, standing outside enjoying a smoke and some small talk.  Many times strong relationships are formed outside in the ‘smokers area’, and it is very common for information to be shared that normally wouldn’t be amongst employees of different ranks.  I don’t smoke – but I love going out and hanging with smokers!

So, as you can imagine, this news from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (and why does Atlanta have their own Federal Reserve?!) was extremely disheartening to me.  I wonder what else Julie and Melinda have been digging into down there in Atlanta?  Do employees who drink Gin make more than all other employees? (please let this be true!) What about the office slut? Does he/she make more money, at work?  If so, did they name that ‘the slut wage gap’?  Do our tax dollars support this ‘research’?

Here is what I know, compensation pro wannabes, if slice and dice the data enough, you can make up any conclusion you want to.  The reality is, smoking equates mostly to lower education, thus lower wages.  That’s a broad stroke, but fairly accurate.  Educated people, for the most part, understand that smoking is bad for you.  Having that knowledge, and being educated, tends then to lead to a non-smoking life.  Having lower education, and knowing smoking is bad for you, tends to lead to a life of ‘what the hell, I’m going to die anyway’.  Some educated folks fall into this same trap.

So, I’ll ask you my smoking friends – if you knew you could make more money, would you stop smoking?  Also, if you never smoked, are you willing to pick it up for a 7% bump in pay?!

Smoke’em if you’ve gotten them in the comments…


2 thoughts on “Employees, Smoking = Less Money

  1. I wonder how many of the quitters were the social smokers in college and their early 20’s? I knew a number of them that were but started quitting as they started working professionally and getting into serious relationships.

  2. In statistics, this is known as a correlation, rather than a causation. Red-haired women earn 10% less! Maybe so, but not because their hair is red.

    I love your pointing out that smoking creates secret societies within corporations (and conference attendees), and those who don’t, miss all the good stuff. Plus the notion that quitters earn 7% more than those who never smoked seems like the greatest encouragement to start since the Marlboro Man!

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