Smoke-Free Workplace

Smoke-Free Workplace: Smoking Cessation Programs 101

Everyone has at least one vice; mine include a hopeless addiction to reality TV and ice cream.  If enjoying a pint of Ben & Jerry’s while watching the Bachelor is wrong then I don’t want to be right.  Some vices, however, are more harmful than others.  As an employer you may not think you have the ability or the bandwidth to do anything about your employee’s smoking habits but research is showing that implementing a smoking cessation program at your workplace, however small, may be something you can’t afford not to do.

Smokers can cost you roughly an extra $5,816 annually vs. nonsmokers according to researchers at Ohio State University.

What makes up the added cost? $3,077 is attributed to smoking breaks – smokers take an average of 5 breaks per day compared to 3 for nonsmokers. $2,056 goes directly to excess health care expenses and the remaining $683 accounts for absenteeism and lost productivity. Yikes.


Alternative workplace benefit programs are all the rage today with wellness in the forefront.  If you have a workplace full of smokers a cessation program may be a great way to introduce your employees to the idea of a more healthy, productive and efficient workplace.  A basic program may be two-pronged involving both your organization’s commitment to providing a smoke-free work environment and making benefits and resources available to your employees via your health care provider.  Here are a few recommended options by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Behavioral Modification: may include telephone, internet, or in-person counseling
  • Prescription/OTC Drug: Consider lowering or eliminating co-pays and deductibles associated with drug therapies that help smokers quit
  • Establishing a smoke-free policy throughout the workplace
  • Flexible spending programs that reimburse smoking cessation therapy and drugs
  • Participating in special events, such as the Great American Smokeout
  • Incentive programs for employees who quit and stay smoke-free
  • Offering employees education and encouragement

Remember that smoking is a serious addiction and it may take some employees time to get used to the idea of working on a smoke-free campus (i.e. they are going to be pissed).  Consider a tiered plan like this one that will help them prepare for the change and maybe even get excited about it.

Questions on how we can help you create a smoking cessation program for your employees? or 877-352-2121.

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