Smoking and labour market participation: a 5-year prospective cohort study of transitions between work, unemployment and sickness absence

Kamilla Kragelund*, Janne S Tolstrup, Cathrine J Lau, Anne I Christensen, Maja B Jørgensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Aim: To examine whether smokers are at higher risk of unemployment and sickness absence and have a lower chance of getting employed compared to never smokers. 

Methods: The study sample in this prospective register-based cohort study consisted of 87,830 men and women between 18 and 60 years of age from the Danish National Health Survey 2010. Assessment of smoking status was obtained at baseline and the participants were followed in the Danish register-based evaluation of marginalisation database from 2010 to 2015. Data were analysed by Cox proportional hazards. 

Results: The median age was 44.5 years and 47.3% were men. At baseline, 88.8% were categorised as working, 7.7% as unemployed and 3.5% as being on sickness absence. At the 5-year follow-up, hazard ratios for transitions from work to unemployment were 1.31 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.22–1.40; P<0.001) for current smokers (<15/day) and 1.52 (95% CI 1.43–1.62; P<0.001) for current heavy smokers (⩾15/day), compared to never smokers. Hazard ratios for transitions from work to sickness absence were 1.31 (95% CI 1.24–1.38; P<0.001) for current smokers (<15/day) and 1.64 (95% CI 1.56–1.71; P<0.001) for current heavy smokers (⩾15/day). Current heavy smokers (⩾15/day) also had a lower chance of becoming re-employed with a hazard ratio of 0.81 (95% CI 0.75–0.88; P<0.001) compared to never smokers. 

Conclusions: Smoking was associated with a higher risk of unemployment and sickness absence, and a lower chance of becoming employed. More focus on smoking prevention and smoking cessation could therefore be implemented in relation to job seeking and sickness absence.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Volume51
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)926-934
ISSN1403-4948
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

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