According to the CDC, “Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.” Killing nearly half a million people a year and costing over $300 billion, tobacco use is a serious problem. Included in that cost are business losses associated with decreased productivity from unhealthy employees missing work.
When you work to help your employees quit smoking, you’re not only creating a better workplace with healthier, happier employees, you’re also saving money. Here’s how you can help your employees quit smoking:
Many industries and even some states require a tobacco-free workplace, but if you fall outside of those industry or state regulations, then consider implementing your own tobacco rules. Include all forms of tobacco such as chewing tobacco, vapes, and cigarettes.
If you already have a tobacco-free workplace policy, make sure to be transparent about the specific rules and the consequences for violating the policy. This will ensure the safety of all employees, both smokers and non-smokers alike.
Going even further, it can be helpful to limit employees’ abilities to smoke on the property of your workplace to discourage tobacco use. Prohibit smoking near doorways and even in the parking lot to make sure that employees realize that tobacco use will need to be limited during working hours.
Banning smoking on your workplace property has many benefits outside of discouraging smoking. It can improve morale amongst non-smokers, reduce the potential for lawsuits concerning second-hand smoke exposure, and improve the air quality in and around your building.
One of the best ways to help employees quit smoking is to provide incentives for those who do quit. You can encourage your employees to quit smoking by offering financial rewards for participating in smoking cessation programs.
Incentives are highly effective, and studies show that smokers are three times more likely to quit if their cessation is incentivized. The incentives don’t need to be cash, but can be as simple as a gift card or a flexible spending card. Any type of incentive can work, as long as your employees are aware that you support and encourage them to lead healthy lives.
Under the Affordable Health Care Act, all insurance plans fully cover the costs of FDA-approved smoking cessation drugs, and many plans cover smoking cessation programs at no cost to the insured. Raising awareness about these programs can help employees take the right steps to quit smoking.
The American Lung Association offers an excellent program you can use for your employees called the Freedom From Smoking program. Signing up for this program and advertising it near “no smoking” signs can be a great way to not just tell smokers what they can’t do, but offer them solutions for change.
Education and repetition are key to helping employees quit smoking. While most Americans are aware that there are risks with smoking, highlighting those risks in your wellness newsletters and through your employee wellness campaigns can help enforce the facts.
In addition, you can pair this strategy with the above strategies by including information about tobacco-related illnesses with your policy announcements and reminders. This will help your employees not simply understand what your policies are but why they are in place.
The goal with all these strategies is not just to create a better workplace, but to show your employees that you’re on their side. To learn more about additional ways you can be an advocate for your employees’ health, contact us today.