If you could help 15% of your workers who are at most risk of serious health issues, wouldn’t you do it? Good news, you can: Offer smoking cessation programs in the workplace to help your employees improve their health, and over the long term, the smoking cessation programs will also help to bolster your bottom line by reducing health costs and improving productivity.
Here are the facts. The CDC reports that in 1965, 42.4% of US adults were smokers; today, the rate has dropped to 15.1%. That’s great news, but 36.5 million adults still smoke, and 480,000 Americans still die from smoking every year. Smoking-related illness costs more than $300 billion a year in the U.S., including nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults and $156 billion in lost productivity.
Research shows that most smokers want to quit and most smokers make several attempts before they are successful. Now, new research published recently in The Lancet shows that smokers who know their personal risk are more likely to quit.
Smokers who received letters estimating their individual risk for serious illness compared with nonsmokers, based on information from their medical records, were roughly twice as likely to attend the introductory “taster” session of a stop-smoking program sponsored by the National Health Service (NHS), reported Hazel Gilbert, PhD, of University College Medical School, London, and colleagues.
One of the authors of the study noted that smokers tend to underestimate their personal risk, so it can increase engagement in smoking cessation programs when the risk is personalized.
How can you use this information in your workplace smoking cessation programs?
Employers who offer smoking cessation programs in the workplace can work with their wellness program to encourage employees to take Health Risk Appraisals and Barometric Screenings so that employees can get a baseline assessment of their own personal health risks. Publicize your wellness programs tailored to address those risks: smoking cessation programs, nutritional and fitness programs, and stress management. At ESI Total Care Wellness, we offer access to Wellness Coaches working hand-in-hand with Counselors, who offer tailored nicotine cessation programs. We’ve found the one-to-one support has been effective in boosting success rates.
Here are other things you can do:
- Provide periodic information about smoking health risks at health fairs, in newsletters, in benefit promos, and in payroll stuffers
- Pay for or subsidize smoking cessation programs
- Offer quit tobacco incentives
- Maintain a healthy workplace – ban smoking on your property
- Tap into many of the free resources available for educating employees about health risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting. Here are a few:
CDC: Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking
American Cancer Society = Quit Smoking Resources
American Heart Association Quit Smoking Resources
This short video from AsapScience is also a great resource to share. It shows what happens when you quit smoking. In the first few days, a person quitting will likely go through some withdrawal symptoms, but the worst of the physical symptoms of discomfort are generally over within 72 hours. Health benefits of quitting begin to kick in – almost immediately. After just 20 minutes, blood pressure and heart rates start settling in to normal levels. Within 2 days, taste buds begin improving. Within one month, there is a decrease in risk of diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Within 3-9 months, the lungs are healing. By 15 years, the risk is lowered to about the same as a nonsmoker.