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The Limitations of PPE: Millions of dollar spent annually on Personal Protective Equipment yet smoking is still common in workplaces (image courtesy of Bunbury Counselling)
The cost of smoking to our community and workforce
When a person quits smoking, the actual health benefits can be measurable almost immediately.
Ms Bev Morton, Consultant with Bunbury Counselling says that “within 72 hours, a person who makes the decision to stop smoking will immediately feel the effects. Your bronchial tubes relax, making breathing easier and lung capacity increases. The ongoing benefits increase over time. Within 2-3 months circulation improves and walking becomes easier, lung function increase and the bodies overall energy increases”.
Ms Morton says ” Research has shown that after 10 years, lung cancer death rates for an average smoker drops to almost that of a non-smoker” .
“It is interesting to look at the 20 studies worldwide that have now reported rapid reductions in acute heart attacks following the passage of strong smoke free legislation that includes restrictions in public venues such as restaurants and bars.”
With 20 years’ experience in drug and alcohol services and health promotion, Ms Morton says that the tangible costs of smoking include lost production (labour costs) due to premature deaths, smoking associated illness, (absenteeism), health care costs. Researchers Collins and Lapsley have found that smokers were 1.4 times more likely to be absent from work and ex-smokers 1.3 times more likely than those who have never smoked. Ms Morton goes onto say that “A reduced labour force and absenteeism costs the sector billions of dollars per year.”
“We now know that each year around 17,000 people die due to tobacco related diseases (43 per day). ‘So the cost to the health and allied health and the community is approximately $12billion. What is not easy is to calculate the intangible costs of smoking. The psychological cost of premature death incurred by family and friends. Also the loss of enjoyment of life incurred by a smoker. The amount in dollars is around $19.5 billion per annum”.
“These are some of the statistics which every Australian needs to be very aware of and that each person has the responsibility to encourage their loved ones who do smoke to take action, and become a non-smoker.
Ms Morton states that she would encourage all workplaces to enact a non-smoking policy and support their employees in their efforts to quit. Many options are available for those seeking healthier choices.