Energy Industry and Smoking

By supporting and educating employees who smoke and helping them quit, petroleum, mining, and other energy companies could potentially save billions in healthcare costs and productivity losses.

worker installing alternative energy photovoltaic solar panels on roof

Over 42 million people throughout the US currently smoke cigarettes. This is about 1 in 5 people. Global and US energy employs hundreds of thousands of employees. According to Forbes, the US gas and oil sector alone employs more than 600,000 people. According to Source Watch, there are approximately 174,000 currently employed in the coal industry, with about 83,000 miners. According to SEIA, solar energy employs approximately 174,000 people. These statistics account for approximately 948,000 people, not counting hydro and wind. Throughout these energy industries, statistically, hundreds of thousands of individuals currently smoke cigarettes. This number accounts for big losses when it comes to the bottom line for companies, but it also means hundreds of thousands of people are at risk for numerous adverse health risks, diseases, and cancers.

How Smoking Affects the Energy Industry

Smoking affects the energy industry the way smoking affects all companies. Individuals and health issues aside, smoking causes huge losses in areas of production and healthcare costs. According to the US National Library of Medicine, employees who smoke demonstrates a significant effect on the annual number of sick leaves. The study concluded that smoking increased sick leaves, and approximately 38% of all absences were due to related illnesses.

Further, the study “Economic Effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke” by Donald F. Behan, Michael P. Eriksen and Yijia Lin, published March 31, 2005, tallied the US economic cost of mere second-hand smoke exposure at roughly $10 billion per year. According to the CDC, smoking costs the nation $92 billion annually in production losses.

How does this relate to the private sector?

A study published in 2003 by Stewart, W.F.; Ricci, J.A.; Chee, E.; Morganstein, D. “Lost Productivity Work Time Costs From Health Conditions in the United States: Results From the American Productivity Audit.” asserts that tobacco use was one of the greatest factors when determining worker lost production time. It was found to attribute to greater losses than “alcohol consumption, family emergencies, age, or education.”

The study also reported that lost productivity work time increased depending on how much an individual smoked. The estimates concluded that those who reported smoking at least one pack of cigarettes every day were 75% higher for lost production time, than what was observed for non-smokers and ex-smokers. Further, employees that smoke have about double the lost production time in a given week than workers who do not smoke. This costs employers approximately $27 billion in productivity losses annually.

With the downturn of 2015 still currently in effect, oil companies especially are using their wits to maintain and recover. This includes cut-backs and layoffs. However, with losses such as these attributable to smoking, profit can be saved by putting efforts into smoking cessation for their employees. Millions – possibly billions – can be saved by eliminating smoking from the equation. This may possibly mean that some or all cut-backs and layoffs could be avoided altogether.


We are asking for your support in order to save hundreds of thousands of lives in the energy industry. By placing efforts into smoking cessation for their employees, all energy companies, be it oil, coal, natural gas, solar, hydro, and wind, can save up to billions in healthcare costs and productivity losses. It is a fact that those who smoke are less productive than those who do not smoke. This is in regards to smoke breaks, as well as endurance, stamina, lung capacity, muscle strength, and overall health. Smoking also affects vision, the central nervous system, and psychological functions. By eliminating smoking in the energy field, exposure to second and third-hand smoke, which contributes to the over 8 million people living with smoke-related diseases and illnesses, also diminishes. Returning employees to health not only builds a stronger company, but it also helps countless employees – and their families.

Published: July 26, 2015


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