New Business Pulse focuses on helping businesses improve employee health by reducing tobacco use

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation today releases Business Pulse: Tobacco Use to help businesses improve employee health—and overall business health—by reducing tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure. Smoking hurts the U.S. economy, costing more than $300 billion annually in direct medical care and lost productivity, including $5.6 billion a year in productivity losses from the health effects of secondhand smoke exposure.

Almost 20 percent of the nation’s workforce smokes, which not only threatens employees’ health and well-being, but also decreases productivity, increases absenteeism and increases workplace maintenance costs. Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States.

“Tobacco use undermines the health and productivity of American workers,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We encourage businesses to put in place proven solutions to reduce tobacco use and improve their employees’ health, knowing that they will also save substantial amounts on annual health care costs.”

Smokers suffer more health problems and disabilities than those who have never smoked, leading to more absenteeism at work. These statistics highlight the serious challenges businesses face:

  • Each smoker is estimated to cost their employer nearly $6,000 more per year than a nonsmoker.
  • Worksites that allow smoking spend about $728 more per 1,000 square feet annually in maintenance costs for office space than smokefree worksites. With U.S. commercial buildings averaging between 12,000 and 19,000 square feet, that is an estimated extra cost of about $8,736 to $13,832 annually.
  • Smoking increases the risk of fires and injuries, which can increase health and building insurance costs by as much as 30 percent.

This issue of Business Pulse includes a question and answer feature with Corinne Graffunder, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. Business Pulse: Tobacco Use also features an interactive infographic with information that can help employers reduce and eliminate tobacco use at work and encourage smokers to quit, along with online CDC resources.

Business Pulse: Tobacco Use is one in a series of quarterly business features created by the CDC Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization. Support for this issue of Business Pulse is provided by The California Endowment. Other Business Pulse topics to date include business continuity, safe healthcare, global health security, travelers’ health, flu prevention, healthy workforce, heart health, food safety, workplace safety, business health, lowering healthcare costs and motor vehicle safety at work. Infographic images or embed code can be found on the CDC Foundation website.

CDC Media: Contact CDC media,, to explore interviewing CDC subject matter experts