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Do Smokers Have a Harder Time Finding Jobs?

Topics: Career Advice

People who smoke don’t do it because they think it’s healthy. Actually, they are all too aware of the risks that come along with smoking cigarettes, and they know how much the addiction is costing them on a practical and monetary level, too. It’s just that quitting smoking can be a really difficult thing to do. Addictions are powerful.

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Smokers aren’t weak or bad people; they’re just struggling with a nicotine addiction. Still, some people will judge them a bit for it, and the addiction itself can have an impact on smokers’ self-perceptions.

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A study released last month by the Stanford University School of Medicine examined the lives of 131 unemployed smokers and 120 unemployed nonsmokers from the San Francisco area to see how their career paths, salaries, and hiring statuses differed as time went on. Here are a few of the key results from the study.

1. Smokers had a harder time finding jobs.

At the start of the study, all of the subjects were unemployed and looking for work. Twelve months later, when researchers checked in with them, nonsmokers were much more likely to have found work than smokers. After a year, 56 percent of nonsmokers had landed employment, while the same was true for only 27 percent of smokers.

“We have a sister study in process to examine implicit and explicit bias toward smokers among hiring managers and practices around screening for smoking,” Judith Prochaska, one of the study’s authors, told NBC News. “Anecdotally, from talking with hiring managers in the field, jobseekers who smell of tobacco place themselves at a great disadvantage for securing employment.”

2. Once hired, smokers earned less.

When researchers looked specifically at the salaries of those workers who had been hired, they found that, on average, smokers earned $5 less per hour than non-smokers. Over the course of the lifetime, this really adds up – even after just one year, the differential is more than $8,000.

3. When researchers controlled for certain factors, they still found big differences.

This study took various factors into account, like duration of unemployment and criminal history. Even when the researchers controlled for these variables, significant discrepancies were still evident.

“We designed this study’s analyses so that the smokers and nonsmokers were as similar as possible in terms of the information we had on their employment records and prospects for employment at baseline,” Michael Baiocchi, who co-authored the study and oversaw the data analyses, told Stanford Medicine’s News Center.

Even when these variables were taken into account, the hiring rate of smokers was 24 percent lower than it was for nonsmokers.

4. This could give smokers one more reason to quit.

There are many benefits to quitting smoking. The results of this newest piece of research about smoking and employment are interesting, but it’s also a bit tricky to pin down exactly why or how the results came out the way they did. One thing is for sure though, when someone succeeds at quitting smoking, it gives them a confidence boost that certainly wouldn’t do any harm to their job search process or their career overall. It’s a wonderful thing to do for yourself.

For more information, be sure to check out the study from Stanford University School of Medicine.

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