Menu Close

RxInformer just published an article “The Triple Threat of Tobacco Use on Employer, Clinical, and Medication Complexity which shows the effects tobacco use has on skeletal injuries, and thus may potentially be an avenue to explore apportionment of permanent disability, since California Labor Code section 4663 mandates that apportionment of permanent disability shall be based on causation. The report is well documented with references to academic and scientific literature.

Recognized as a patient risk factor within workers’ compensation healthcare, tobacco use, including cigarette smoking, has specific impacts on employee and injured worker patient populations.

– – Smoking has detrimental impacts to worker productivity, including both absenteeism and presenteeism factors.
– – Rates of tobacco use are higher among blue collar occupations, with the highest prevalence of cigarette smoking in construction, mining and manufacturing.
– – The average additional cost associated with employing a smoker are estimated at more than $7000 annually.
– – Tobacco use increases fracture risk, slows healing, and is linked to increased risk for post-surgical complications that increase morbidity, mortality, and healthcare interventions.
– – Tobacco smoke can negatively interact with a number of medications prescribed in workers’ compensation.

Tobacco use deteriorates the health and function of all major body systems and is linked to multiple clinical detriments relevant to injury and recovery. Cigarette smoking is known to delay wound healing due to the damage it inflicts on blood vessels, blood flowing to wounds, and decreased oxygen levels in blood.

Smoking also erodes the entire musculoskeletal system, degrading bone density and leaving individuals at higher risk for fractures, slower healing, and nonunion. The authors cite Hernigou J & Schuind F. Tobacco and bone fractures. Bone Joint Res. 2019;8:255-65 as authority for this claim.

Notable is the established connection between tobacco use and post-surgical complications. The trauma of surgical intervention triggers a natural inflammatory response in the body that enables tissue recovery and helps to fight infection. The negative impacts of tobacco on cardiovascular function, pulmonary function and tissue healing are shown to interfere with this process, lending itself to higher rates of significant postsurgical complications. Here the authors cite Sorensen LT. Wound healing and infection in surgery. The clinical impact of smoking and smoking cessation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Arch Surg. 2012;147(4):373-83 and Turan A, Mascha EJ, Roberman D, et al. Smoking and perioperative outcomes. Anesthesiology. 2011;114(4):837-46 as medical literature on this issue.

Tobacco smoke can negatively interact with certain medications by impacting how the body absorbs, metabolizes, distributes and excretes them. This can mean reducing or, in rare cases, enhancing the effectiveness of the medication. It can also mean increasing the risk of adverse effects.

Some of the potentially impacted prescribed within workers’ compensation include, but are not limited to Benzodiazepines, Opioids, Tricyclic antidepressants, Alprazolam, Cyclobenzaprine, Naproxen and others. See the publication by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Drug interactions with tobacco smoke for a more complete list.