Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Workplace smoking related absenteeism and productivity costs in Taiwan
  1. S P Tsai1,
  2. C P Wen2,
  3. S C Hu3,
  4. T Y Cheng2,
  5. S J Huang4
  1. 1The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health, Houston, Texas, USA
  2. 2Division of Health Policy Research, National Health Research Institute, Taipei, Taiwan
  3. 3Department of Public Health, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan
  4. 4Department of Health Education, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan
  1. Correspondence to:
 Shan Pou Tsai
 The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health, Houston, Texas, USA;


Objective: To estimate productivity losses and financial costs to employers caused by cigarette smoking in the Taiwan workplace.

Methods: The human capital approach was used to calculate lost productivity. Assuming the value of lost productivity was equal to the wage/salary rate and basing the calculations on smoking rate in the workforce, average days of absenteeism, average wage/salary rate, and increased risk and absenteeism among smokers obtained from earlier research, costs due to smoker absenteeism were estimated. Financial losses caused by passive smoking, smoking breaks, and occupational injuries were calculated.

Results: Using a conservative estimate of excess absenteeism from work, male smokers took off an average of 4.36 sick days and male non-smokers took off an average of 3.30 sick days. Female smokers took off an average of 4.96 sick days and non-smoking females took off an average of 3.75 sick days. Excess absenteeism caused by employee smoking was estimated to cost US$178 million per annum for males and US$6 million for females at a total cost of US$184 million per annum. The time men and women spent taking smoking breaks amounted to nine days per year and six days per year, respectively, resulting in reduced output productivity losses of US$733 million. Increased sick leave costs due to passive smoking were approximately US$81 million. Potential costs incurred from occupational injuries among smoking employees were estimated to be US$34 million.

Conclusions: Financial costs caused by increased absenteeism and reduced productivity from employees who smoke are significant in Taiwan. Based on conservative estimates, total costs attributed to smoking in the workforce were approximately US$1032 million.

  • absenteeism
  • smoking prevalence
  • productivity
  • occupational injuries
  • cessation
View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Competing interests: none declared

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.