Up in smoke

This isn’t the first time I have written about the cost to small (and large) business of cigarette smokers.  These can be your own staff, or it could be smokers near your premises who you are tolerating.

Unless you are in the cigarette business, smokers cost your business money and yet there seems to be a reluctance on the part of many businesses to offer employees assitance to quit this destructive habit.

Some of the costs to business are very quantifiable, whilst others are a little more difficult but nonetheless, they are still there.

In recent weeks I have encountered three situations where the business owners bottom lines were directly impacted by smokers.

1.  At a hairdressers, the stylist was clearly a smoker, she may not have realised it but she stank!  I had booked in for a couple of services, but after the stylist completed the first service and returned to me, it was obvious that she had been outside smoking – she smelled even worse than before – there was no way I could sit there and let her do any further work on me – and I asked her to dry my hair off and I left.  This cost the owner more than $150 in turnover, and it occurs to me that if it happened once, how many other clients were equally turned off by the stylist. The sad thing is that I see hairdressers and other beauty industry workers smoking at shopping centres all over the country, so this is not isolated to just my salon.

2. Standing at the takeaway bar of a CBD cafe, I noticed a distinct cigarette smell, it was as though I was standing next to someone puffing away – the smell and the smoke was permeating the takeaway area.  The operator had set up tables outside for smokers, but they were so close to the door, that the prevailing breeze blew it all inside.  Again, this was having an impact on business as I was not the only one to leave without purchasing.  The simple solution is to reconfigure the layout of the outside seating so that smoke doesn’t drift inside.

3. I noticed one particular employee sitting outside the office building smoking on an hourly basis – my day involved a series of short meetings in and out of the building and each time I left the building the same person was puffing away.  This is not a new building and lift service and waiting times is sometimes slow.  I estimated that this person worked less than 45 minutes in every hour. In other words he was paid for 25% more work than he actually did.

It is everyone’s right to do what they wish to their body however this should be the individual’s cost, not the employers.  My challenge to all small businesses is – take a step back, and look around and if you employ smokers, make sure that you really understand what they cost you, offering Corporate quit smoking programs may be a far less expensive option for both you and the employee.