Smoking May Hinder Your Job Search

Cigarette smoking has been associated with a wide array of health risks including cancer and respiratory disorders. However, according to a new study, smoking may also jeopardize your prospects of landing a job.

The study was conducted by researchers in the San Francisco Bay Area and included 251 unemployed participants, both smokers and nonsmokers, who sought employment from 2013 to 2015. The participants had an average age of 48 years with two-thirds being men and thirty-eight percent being white.

The study revealed that nonsmokers were thirty percent more likely to have found a job after a year as compared to smokers. The study also established that smokers have a tendency of earning an average of five dollars less per hour than their nonsmoking peers.

According to Judith Prochaska, the author of the study and an associate professor with Stanford University’s Prevention Research Center in California, the health harms of smoking have been established for more than fifty years with new evidence pointing out that smoking can also hurt your success in the workforce and even lower your pay.

“The health harms of smoking have been established for over 50 years, and now evidence is accumulating that smoking can hurt your success in the workforce and perhaps even lower your pay.”
– Judith Prochaska, Associate Professor with Stanford University’s Prevention Research Center in California

The study also took into account other factors that may affect an individual’s employment prospects such as criminal history, access to transportation and housing. Surprisingly, the results still revealed a twenty-four percent difference in employment after one year between smokers and nonsmokers.

Even though the study did not address the exact causes of unemployment and differences in pay, Prochaska noted that the smokers involved in the study sample placed greater priority to their discretionary spending on cigarettes, rather than on aspects that would help them in their job-search, such as grooming care, new clothing, and costs for transportation.

She also added that smokers have a tendency of taking more sick days and are more distracted at work. This is in addition to being tied to higher health care costs. The authors noted that while it is still unclear why smokers might face a penalty on the job front, other factors other than smoking could explain the difference.

Despite previous studies linking smoking to unemployment, Prochaska noted that the new study stands out as it followed unemployed participants over time. Although the researchers cannot prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship, they established that even after considering other factors such as education, age, and race, non smokers still fared better than smokers.

According to Prochaska, the power of nicotine addiction should not be ignored. She explained by noting that one may be unable to focus on the questions on hand at an interview if he or she is craving a cigarette, which might place them at a disadvantage in the job interview process.