A few moments off the workstation by smokers for a 'puff break', actually bear heavily on their employers' pockets.
Other related routines, coupled with the actual act ofsmoking, can slice off more than three weeks of the company's time per employee in a year, says an expert.
According to quit smoking guru Julian Leicester, besides having to fork out higher medical insurance premiums, employers have to deal with lower productivity due to the frequent smoking breaks.
"Besides the time it takes to finish a cigarette, travelling time, such as waiting for the lift and walking to the smoking room or outside the office block, must also be taken into account," Leicester told the Star online.
Citing a productivity case study involving a multinational IT firm in Malaysia, Leicester said the company, on average, lost 22.1 days per smoker per year.
"That is one full work month and more than the minimum annual leave mandated by law, which is only 14 days," he said.
The calculations were based on the assumption that the smoker spends five minutes to get to the smoking area and another five to finish his cigarette.
"The participants in the case study smoked, on average, 13.2 cigarettes each per day. If you multiply that by 10 minutes, that gives you 2.2 hours per day or 22.1 days per year not including weekends, public holidays and annual leave," said Leicester, author and trainer of The Science To Quit Smoking.
He suggested that the ideal solution to this problem would be to have a smoke-free office rather than "smoke outside the office" rule.
"Companies must stop funding smoking at their workplace," he added.
Participants in the study were sent for an anti-smoking workshop and 40 percent quit smoking entirely while 33 percent reduced the number of cigarettes by half or more.