The price of a carton of Kools just went up. Way up. But not for smokers. It's employers who are paying, primarily in time lost to cigarette breaks by smoking employees.

Smoking employees cost their employers an average of $5,816 more each year than do non-smoking workers. This figure comes from new research authored by Ohio State University researcher Micah Berman, whose team based its work on previous research that had not been considered strictly from a cost-per-employee standpoint.

"This estimate should be taken as a general indicator of the extent of excess costs, not as a predictive point value," Berman said in his abstract for the study. "Employees who smoke impose significant excess costs on private employers. The results of this study may help inform employer decisions about tobacco-related policies."

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.