How to Create a Smoking Cessation Program
Do any of your employee’s smoke? Then you need a smoking cessation program.
The sad truth is that smokers increase costs for companies. But, by how much?
A report by WebMDNews reported that, “Compared to non-smoking employees, every staff member who lights up costs their employer nearly $6,000 more each year.”[i]
The report breaks down the $6,000 to extra annual costs stemming from more time off due to sickness, numerous smoking breaks leading to lost productivity, and doctor visits.
Maybe you are shocked by that number. Maybe you aren’t.
Either way, what are your next steps?
My recommendation is to first review your claims data provided by your insurance provider to determine the current number of employees that smoke. Once you assess your current situation and how it may be increasing your healthcare costs then you can create a strategy to lower the numbers, if relevant.
This is a very complex and personal topic.
It impacts the emotional, mental and spiritual aspect of an individual as well as the physical. Not to mention their families.
“It is important to remember that the costs imposed by tobacco use are not simply financial costs. It is not possible to put a price on the lost lives and the human suffering caused by smoking. The desire to help one’s employees lead healthier and longer lives should provide an additional impetus for employers to work towards eliminating tobacco from the workplace.” Micah Berman and colleagues of the College of Public Health & Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University.
If you decide to create a smoking cessation program and strategy you will need to carefully assess what type of activities are relevant for your employees.
The main issue is that smoking is very personal decision.
Not too many people will appreciate be singled out to “fix” this habit if they aren’t wanting the information or ready for the change.
Give your employees the freedom to decide what’s best by surveying them.
Next, follow up and provide them the support they need so that they can change their behavior when they’re ready.
Here are a few ideas when it comes to setting up a smoking cessation program.
Tips for Creating a Smoking Cessation Program
- Weave a smoking cessation program into your overall corporate wellness strategy (should the claims data justify the need). Communicate through a variety of platforms, such as the company intranet, newsletter, bulletin boards, and email campaign.
- Create awareness about events, such as the Great American Smoke-out, that your company could promote to staff and encourage participation.
- Leverage resources such as smokefree.gov
- Provide local and state hotlines for encouragement and support.
- Consider a voluntary mentorship program by pairing a smoker with a non-smoker for accountability.
- Encourage employees who’ve already quit to provide informal group talks or one-on-one coaching.
- For those making a commitment to quitting, provide gum, lozenges, or patches as a care package to help them get started.
- Create a “quit smoking” section on the company intranet site which stores informative and inspirational videos, book suggestions, advice, and an employee forum.
- Provide a tobacco savings calculator tool so employees see what they could do with money they spend on tobacco each month and year.
- Provide incentives to reward employees who’ve quit on various anniversaries, such as one-month, 3 months etc. Incentive rewards can include gift certificates to local restaurants, gyms, spas, or items from locally sponsored businesses.
- Invite local experts such as nutritionists or life coaches to present at lunch n’ learns to discuss strategies on how to quit, and other health and wellness tips and activities.
- Encourage walking groups for breaks and lunch hours as a substitute for smoking.
- Review your company’s healthcare plan for coverage in smoking cessation for employees. Promote and publicize smoking cessation coverage to plan members. See http://www.lung.org/assets/documents/tobacco/cessation-action-plan.pdf for an action plan example.
These are just a few ideas to get you started.
Remember, get your employees feedback upfront and don’t publicly single out or talk down to those that do smoke.
A habit doesn’t form overnight so it may take time to start seeing results, but it’s well worth the effort to tackle this issue and get something going in your organization. If you do nothing, consider what the cost will be.
If you have other ideas on how to approach a quit smoking program, please reply in the comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts!
Want more? Download my 4 Key Strategies to Corporate Wellness.
[i] Source – http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20130604/smokers-cost-employers-thousands-more-than-nonsmokers