Smokers Make Less Than Nonsmokers

Posted: April 24, 2014 | tobacco | income, nonsmokers, smokers | 0 Comments

Keeping up the habit has become increasingly costly in the past few years. Tax hikes and other price increases have made the price per pack rise steadily and if you’re hooked, that means you’re paying more and more to continue smoking. As if that weren’t bad enough, a new study suggests that not only are smokers paying more than they used to for cigarettes but that on average, a smoker makes less money than a nonsmoker to begin with.


Julie Hotchkiss and Melinda Pitts of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta found that smokers earn about 80% of what nonsmokers do. Adding further emphasis to their claims, they also found that people who quit increase their income by 7% within a year of quitting, suggesting a direct correlation between smoking and income.


The reason for the correlation is open for debate. The two most popular theories are:


  1. Smokers need to take more breaks from work than nonsmokers. If you have to take 2 to 3 breaks per day to light up, that effectively makes you less productive than a nonsmoker and can mean that you get less work done.
  2. Smokers tend to be less educated than nonsmokers and, by virtue of their addiction, display a lack of self-control and an inability (or lack of desire) to quit.


As you can probably imagine, neither of the two theories appeal much to an employer. So it’s no surprise that a smoker may get passed by for a raise or promotion and an employer opts to go with someone who takes fewer breaks and exhibits more self control.


Not only is smoking an unnecessary expenditure but odds are, if you do smoke, you make less money to afford your habit with anyway.

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