That’s the butt end of a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, which found that employees who smoke cigarettes earn 17.5 percent less than employees who don’t smoke.
Melinda Pitts, an economist at the Fed and co-author of the report, said that smokers make an average annual income of $27,248 annually, while nonsmokers make an average of $33,820 annually.
“Whether you smoke 30 to 600 cigarettes a month, the penalty is still the same,” said Pitts.
Pitts was surprised to find that former smokers earned higher wages than people that never smoked.
“There is a reward for smoking cessations. Somebody that can quit an addiction has something special about them,” says Pitts. “It shows they have more valuable characteristics.”
She also notes that people with more education and those who are married are less likely to smoke.
Employers tend to believe that smokers are more prone to long-term health risks and are less productive at work.
“People that smoke care less about their body, said Eric Wilson, a 27-year-old consultant at the Huxley Associates recruiting firm.
Wilson has been smoking cigarettes for 10 years. He says that his high-stress job feeds into his addiction, which causes him to take about three smoke breaks during the workday.
He adds that smokers tend to not “have enough willpower to quit, and that probably translates into their professional lives.”
Yulia Nzaoza, 35, is an assistant to the chief financial officer at the Russian Alcohol Group in New York. She notices that most of the higher-income people — especially top-level managers — don’t smoke.
The 10-year smoking veteran said, “It takes a strong character to not indulge in bad habits like smoking ... everyone understands that it’s bad.”
Of course, disapproval of smoking isn’t limited to the workplace. New York’s legislature issued a state-wide smoking ban a decade ago that made it illegal to smoke in bars and restaurants as well.