Smoking breaks at work

Smoking breaks at work

  • Two in five of those who take smoking breaks (40%) do so mainly because they need to get away from work– not because they need a cigarette
  • More than just a fag break! Smokers also take cigarette breaks to flirt with colleagues (4%) or as a strategic opportunity to speak to their boss (4%)
  • Stub it out! Majority of Brits either smoke (24%) or have smoked in the past (29%)

Our latest research reveals getting the country to quit smoking could have a huge impact for businesses, as well as on people’s health. Two thirds of smokers (64%) admitting to smoking at work, and Opinium Research reveals that a smoker, who works full time and takes cigarette breaks, spends almost 10 hours a month* on a smoking break outside instead of working.

40% of smokers who take a cigarette break do so simply because they “want to get away from their work”. Other top reasons for taking a cigarette break include:

  1. Pressure getting to them and making them irritable (30%)
  2. To gossip with their colleagues (14%)
  3. To flirt with their co-workers (4%)
  4. Strategic opportunity to talk to their boss (4%)

Kate Norfolk, head of healthcare research at Opinium, commented: “As a quarter of nation currently smokes (24%), the No Smoking Day campaign has never been more important. Its interesting to see that not only do non-smokers see it as unfair that their smoking colleagues have more breaks at work (71%), but also believe they’ve missed out on a strategic opportunities with their boss because they don’t share the habit (17%). It is clear to see that “cigarette breaks” at work have many more implications than employees just wanting to smoke.”

Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,014 people aged 18+, from 28th February to 1st March 2012. 484 were smokers (199 who take smoking breaks at work) and 1,530 were non smokers (418 take breaks at work). Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

*The average smoker who takes cigarette breaks (excluding lunchbreaks and those taking no breaks) takes 4 breaks per day, lasting on average 7 minutes each.
28 minutes per day x 21.4 average working days for someone in full time employment = 599.2 minutes per month, approximately 10 hours.

This survey is conducted online by CAWI (computer aided web interviewing), using Opinium’s online research panel of circa 35,000 individuals. This research is run from a representative sample of UK adults (aged 18+ in England, Scotland and Wales). The sample is scientifically defined from pre-collected registration data containing gender, age (18-34, 35-54, and 55+), region (North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside, East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England, London, South East, South West, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), working status and social grade to match the latest published ONS figures.

Opinium also takes into account differential response rates from the different demographic groups, to ensure the sample is representative.