Tobacco and smoking cessation: workplace health

Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke are health hazards. Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of illness, disability and premature death.

The cost of smoking in the workplace and the benefits of being smoke-free

According to the Conference Board of Canada, each smoker costs his or her employer on average an estimated $4,256 in 2012: more than $3,800 in lost productivity due to unsanctioned smoking breaks and more than $400 in lost productivity due to absenteeism. A smoke-free workplace protects employees who don’t smoke from the  effects of second-hand smoke and can be a source of great support for employees who do smoke.

An employer’s involvement:

(Health Canada, 2009; Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2006)

Lowering the number of smokers in the workplace

Research shows that offering tailored quit smoking support in the workplace plays an important part in reducing smoking levels. To increase the success of your workplace plan, shape it to suit the needs, opportunities and circumstances of your workplace.


Include a variety of supports and activities, such as:

As a result of creating a smoke-free workplace, you may find:

Top 10 reasons to stop smoking

1. Better health: Improved health is the number one reason to quit smoking. As soon as you quit your body starts to heal itself.

2. Better breathing: Smoking affects your breathing—the longer you smoke the harder it is to breathe.

3. Personal appearance: Quitting will improve your personal appearance by reducing bad breath, yellow teeth and fingers, and prematurely aging skin.

4. Role model for children: Be a positive role model for your own children, and for everyone else’s children.

5. No more second-hand smoke: If you quit smoking you will help protect your friends and family from the dangers of second-hand smoke.

6. Better smell: When you quit smoking, your sense of smell will improve and everything will smell better, including yourself, your house and your car.

7. Fewer places to smoke: With increased smoking restrictions in public places, including workplaces, there are fewer places to smoke.

8. Smoking is expensive: You will save hundreds or thousands of dollars each year if you quit smoking.

9. Smoking is a fire hazard

10. It is never too late to quit smoking: If you have tried to quit before, take this as a positive sign, not a failure. It often takes several quit attempts to quit for good – each time you try to quit smoking you are closer to your goal.

source: Smoking Cessation in the Workplace–A guide to helping your employees quit smoking (Health Canada)

We can help

The Health Unit can support you in creating a smoke-free workplace. We offer general information sessions about quitting smoking, a 4-week learn-to-quit program, and assistance with developing smoke-free policies to help your employees stop smoking. Call our Tobacco Information Line at 705.522.3433 (toll-free 1.866.522.3433), or contact our Workplace Health Team at 705.522.9200,ext. 290, (toll-free 1.866.522.9200) or email

This item was last modified on April 30, 2020