Background: This study examines the relationship between smoking cessation and absence from work by analyzing data collected from a large sample of ex-smokers. In particular, it is hypothesized that if smoking cessation is of benefit for work attendance, the incidence of absence should be inversely related to the amount of time elapsed since smoking cessation.
Methods: A multivariate logit model of absence incidence is proposed which includes variables measuring the amount of time since smoking cessation. This model is then estimated using data collected from a sample of 4,812 ex-smokers as part of the 1989/1990 Australian National Health Survey.
Results: The estimated coefficients indicate that the probability of absence among ex-smokers is highest for those who only stopped smoking in the past year and progressively falls with the number of years since smoking cessation, with persons who last smoked at least 20 years ago found up to 4.5 times less likely to be absent from work than persons who ceased smoking during the previous year.
Conclusions: Smoking cessation is not only associated with improved health outcomes, but also with improved behavioral outcomes, such as increased work attendance. However, such improvement is observed only over relatively long periods of time.