Do Smokers Really Take More Breaks at Work?

smoke breaksAccording to an AOL Jobs Survey, 36 percent of smokers think smokers take more breaks than non-smokers, while 59 percent of non-smokers believe that smokers take more breaks.

Are smokers really taking that many more breaks or is their break time just more obvious because they have to leave the building to light up? Many people take excessive breaks at work, but their breaks may be easy to hide from co-workers and the boss. Who among us hasn't stopped what they were doing to update their Facebook status, make a personal phone call, or even do a bit of online shopping? Perhaps while the breaks for smokers have become more obvious (gone are the days when you could close your office door and smoke away like a chimney), the outlets for non-smokers to take breaks have multiplied due to that permanent distraction called the Internet.

And who's to say that smoking breaks are all bad? Robert Gams, a salesman for a designer eyewear store in Queens, N.Y., has been able to turn his smoke breaks into a sale on a fairly regular basis. Gams strikes up conversations with passersby daily while he is out taking a smoke. If they stop and look in the store's window, he begins pitching his wares, offering to show them some frames and even manages to make a sale using this technique once a month. Over his 14 year career with the store, that has added up to a nice chunk of change for his employer.

In addition, Gams uses his smoke breaks to start conversations with neighboring shop owners and develop rapport and good will. Plus, the smoke breaks give him a mental break from the job that he believes makes him more productive when he returns to the sales floor.

If a smoke break can help some people refocus when they return to work, could the same be said for non-smokers who take a break as structured as the smoker's break? How about a five-minute meditation or stretching break? Or even a break to walk around the block a few times to clear your head?

Pat Tomasulo, anchor for WGN TV's morning news in Chicago, has some interesting ideas about smoke breaks for non-smokers. What do you think? Could everyone benefit from a work break every hour or two? What would you do if you had more breaks?

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Odie Bod

I only know from my experience in health care. The smokers went outside for breaks constantly, while the rest of us were lucky if we got lunch.

October 03 2012 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am an ex-smoker (30 years worth) and have been smoke free for 20 years now. Smartest thing I ever did especialy with my ex-brand being $4.20 a pack now. The company I worked for offered a smoke busters program and 5 emp. joind I was the only one to finish and I love all the money I was able to save. By the way, smokers do abuse the break privilage more often and longer but I blame the companies for allowing it to happen not the smoker, they are addicted to a drug and it probably will shorten their life span by 10 to 20 year and it will cost the companies more money to employ them but they do have the right to kill themselves any way they see fit and those major brand killer weed companies love you all the way to the bank.

October 03 2012 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am old enough to have worked for a company that allowed me to smoke at my desk. I didn't leave my desk all day and worked like a fiend. Barely stopped for lunch.
Now I don't get smoke breaks and I always go out and buy my lunch so I can leave and smoke. I get cranky too and I know why.
I wonder how ecigarettes would catch on? No second hand smoke so what could the gripe be?

October 03 2012 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dude.. wtf..

Yes, today actually, i asked if i could go outside on my break to smoke.. Im the only smoker..
Anyways, he said "no i cant, i cant turn the alarm off except to let people in".. Why is this fair?
Why on my break i cannot go outside? Its a large retail chain.. I make min wage. Come on!
So i said "oh yeah? i bet you unlock this door when i choose to go home." He still didnt want to but he knew then he had to. What im saying is, is that right? He's been a manager there to two weeks, another manager whos been there considerably longer let me out for a quick smoke with no problems. I dont see how its against policy to turn off alarm for a bit to let me out to smoke... i just dont understand... im a stocker, i make m in wage, my life sucks, let me out the ******* door to smoke!!!!

October 01 2011 at 9:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Before those that got smoking banned from the workplace to begin with, people actually used to be able to do two things at once; smoke and work. Wow, imagine that! Nowadays of course it would be more obvious if a smoker took a 'quick' break because they usually have to leave the building which takes time just to get there and back on top of standing there smoking the cigarette. So of course, it's noticed more if some smokers abuse their break times. Even on scheduled breaktimes, it can take longer to go outside and back in larger buildings and complexes. Yet the non-smoker can seemingly take a break most anytime from their current task and still make it look like they are keeping busy by wandering around the office or just leaning back in the chair for a few minutes fiddling with their smart-phone. Getting up to get a cup of coffee or a snack to bring back to your desk or work area does count as a mini-break. Try staying away from the desk until you drink it all or finish the snack and see if you aren't eventually chastised for taking those unscheduled "extra breaks" from work, the same as smokers are in question in this article.

March 20 2011 at 5:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chzyrider's comment
Kevin Christopher Fo

Chzyrider, smokers can also take the type of breaks you mention that non-smokers do. They can fiddle with things and not accomplish anything. Not all smokers are going to spend 100% of their breaktime smoking.

January 10 2012 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i work for a doctor; i smoke. however i wear a nictotine patch while at work and never take a break for a smoke. its a good thing as it has caused me to cut down on my smoking a lot; i was on unempoyment for almost 2 years before i scored this job; would never let smoking ruin it for me. The patch works, I do not even think about a cigarette while there (7-8 hours a day) 5 days a week.

March 19 2011 at 9:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am now retired but do remember the non smokers that would come to work at 7 A.M. stand around and talk until 8:30 A.M. and then decide to go to work. At 7 I was at my desk working and got alot of work done before 8:30 when the clients started their appointment. (Worked for a government agency Jobs & Family Services). I would take a break just before my first client or right after the client left which means I had been there about 11/2 to 2 hours. This break usually took about 8 minutes(we had to punch out). 30 minutes for lunch and then smoke breaks in the afternoon. Most people took and hour for lunch(non smokers) or should I say whatever they would punch back in and set back down in the lunch room. They took more breaks than I did and they always took their 15 minute breaks

March 19 2011 at 3:35 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I'm with you, jojomomax2.
I, along with co-workers, am allowed two 10 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch. As my shift ends at 2:30 p.m., I don't feel the need to eat at work. I used to take 4 smoke breaks. Timed them after multiple comments by co-workers: on an average 6 minutes each - so 24 minutes total of the 50 I was allowed.
My boss told me at my last review that I was no longer allowed to do this, that I MUST take the 30 minutes and was not allowed to substitute it for the other break.
Like 'hidewayneandbeth' my co-workers are hyper aware of me walking out to smoke though they take each and every second of their breaks and lunches and then some.

March 19 2011 at 8:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dreannp's comment

Good point, my wife used to manage a small service station and convenience store. She told me the non-smoking employees would more commonly ignore a rush of customers if they still had a few minutes left on their break. Though I smoke, I am one who gets 'deeply involved' with my work and hates to stop or be interupted once I get going on a job, even to smoke, so I may not want to take that 10 minute break and often not want to stay away that long anyway while I was still focused on it and return to work after a quick smoke unwittingly making the others, mostly non-smokers look bad in the process when they would stroll back in at the last second a few minutes later. I'd rather keep working until I reach a good stopping point, then take a couple to a few minutes or more to pause before continuing the next step in the process, preferably uninterupted. These stopping points often do not coordinate with the employer's scheduled breaktimes. Employers in some industries just can't figure out that if employees are allowed to take a quick break or lunch when needed or convenient within the task, it may actually be more productive especially in careers where you must remain focused or finish to a certain point. A good example of finshing the task may be Woody Harrelson in that "Kingpin" movie, where he runs away from the barn raising when the dinner chime rang. If you've seen it, you'd know.

March 20 2011 at 6:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have been both a smoker and a non-smoker. I would step outside for a smoke break that took approximately 6-8 minutes, the thought of being away from my desk for 15 minutes straight is scary, even though our employee handbook states we get 15 minutes for every 4 hours worked, I don't take them, I don't need the whole 15 minutes nor do I need the condescending looks from my boss upon my return. My co-worker, a non-smoker, arrives on average 12-20 minutes late at least twice a week, is not docked or even questioned about it. She takes her 15 minutes, and then some, in the morning and in the afternoon. I am 50 years old and I am in great shape/health. My physician gives me the speech about my smoking every year, after he tells me my x-rays and ekg are good. Smokers are monitored, scrutinized and financially taxed due to their smoking. Yet alchohol is found in every grocery store. I hear on the news daily of deaths, accidents & crimes involving alchohol. Are employers requiring no alchohol use whatsoever and monitoring that? Insurers placing higher premiums on drinkers? Are they monitoring that? Obesity has a huge impact on health care costs that are passed on to everyone. I can buy a snickers candy bar and soda anytime of day at work, break or not, and no one thinks anything of it. Will employers be testing sugar levels and monitoring sugar intake anytime soon? Blood pressure, wonder how much is spent on medications for that? Salt free diets mandatory? Monitored? Taxed? Depending on the time of day and what article your reading or who's view your listening to its all the same....pros & cons on every issue, support and opposition. Just depends on who's issue is the hot topic of the moment, enjoy the ride when its your turn :) Where I work we are going smoke free by Sept. 1st. I will then be taking my whole 15 min break, outside, standing in the same sun shine I did when I smoked a cigerette for 7 mins, only now I will be outside the whole 15 mins. :) Once we're a smoke free country I wonder which issue will be the next target. Corporations who profit off of sugar free products can begin showing statisitcs on obesity, blah blah blah.....stock our vending machines with wheat carckers, which I luv , I'd support that :) Ok, that's my 2 cents

March 18 2011 at 7:23 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

As an ex-smoker I took more breaks but not more time. I broke my lunch time up into ten minutes three times to have a cigarette. I quit a few months ago just because, and am glad I did, but don't know if the urge will ever go away. Needing a cigarette for some is just like needing coffee is to others............don't judge.

March 18 2011 at 7:00 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to gimmeadew2's comment
Hi DeWayne&Beth!

Wow an ex-smoker who is NOT judgemental, very refreshing. Thank you! I hope you keep it up, don't go back! I want to quit, I just know I am not ready right now. When the time is right I will.

I also don't even take a lunch break, the company certainly makes money from me, I added it up last week. I get an hour lunch break and I take one 15 min. break to go get coffee *actually 12 min.'s and two 5 min. breaks. That's 22 minutes out of 60. The non-smokers take their FULL 60 minutes plus and say something about me. Unreal!

March 19 2011 at 6:45 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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