Smoking in the workplace: lowering it can impact positively on mental health & productivity

It’s common sense that giving up your smoking habit will bring significant benefits to your physical health. The NHS explains that these include helping you breathe easier, improved fertility levels, enhanced senses such as smell and taste and having younger looking skin. Did you know that half of all long-term smokers’ lives are cut short due to smoking-related illnesses such as chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease? In fact, by stopping smoking when you’re 30, you can add 10 years to your lifespan. However, kicking the habit at 60 increases your life expectancy by three years.

Ditching the cigarettes means you can expect to experience improvements to your physical health, mental health and your productivity in the workplace.

With the help of Nicotinell, a leading supplier of the 1 Mg Nicotine Lozenge, let’s explore that a bit further…

Nicotine can increase stress levels

Research has found that, while people may say they smoke as a way to combat stress, this can actually have the opposite effect. When you are in between cigarettes, the nicotine withdrawal can heighten your feelings of stress. In 2018, a survey suggested that 85% of UK adults regularly experience stress, with 39% admitting that they feel too stressed in their day-to-day lives. It’s true that nicotine can create an immediate sense of relaxation, leading people to believe that this helps their stress levels, but in fact the addiction and need for more nicotine can increase stress levels as the feeling of temporary relief is replaced by withdrawal symptoms and increased cravings.

Depression: smoking prompts our brains to turn off the natural supply of dopamine

According to data, a third of people who have depression are smokers, and are more likely to be heavy smokers than those not suffering from depression and/or anxiety. Those who are depressed are known to have a lower level of dopamine in their body. This natural chemical triggers positive and happy feelings when it is released in the brain. Like stress and anxiety, people who smoke and are depressed may receive a short-lived high after a cigarette. However, smoking prompts our brains to turn off the natural supply of dopamine, which therefore means that smokers have to smoke more in order to receive a high once more.

Give up smoking and your immune system is given a major boost

Once you give up smoking, you’ll find that your blood circulation improves within 2-to-12 weeks. Therefore, your oxygen levels will increase, which in turn can help to reduce tiredness and headaches. This renewed energy may make you more productive in the workplace.

A study suggests that in the UK, the average person spends seven-and-a-half years feeling tired. Tiredness is likely to reduce productivity. Workplace procrastination is said to cost British businesses £76 billion each year.  

When you quit smoking, your immune system is given a major boost. This helps you to fight off colds and flu that can contribute to you feeling lethargic and unproductive. Cold and flu also increases the risk of having a sick day. A US survey in which smokers, non-smokers and those who have quit were questioned found that the smokers in the group took almost three times as much sick leave as non-smokers. It also found that it took quitters an average of 12 months to become more productive than those who still smoke, but once the first year was finished, their productivity levels increased to five per cent more than those who still smoke.  

Quitting smoking means you’ll spend more time at your desk

Smokers, in general, spend more time away from their desk. It is costing employers £1815 on average per smoker due to sick leave and smoking breaks. This is due to smokers usually taking four smoke breaks a day. Quitting will mean that you are at your desk more often and such breaks don’t have the chance to disrupt your workflow.

There is a lot of press — and rightly so — about how smoking affects your physical health. Looking at the larger picture, it’s clear that the habit is causing much more damage, though. Take the step today and kick the habit. Your body, mind, family and bank balance will thank you for it!


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