Providing resources to help your employees quit using tobacco is the single most effective health benefit you can provide to your employees.
Tobacco use results in huge costs to the state as a whole and to employers in particular. Smokers consume more health care resources, experience greater absenteeism, and tend to be less productive while at work. The estimated costs to the health care system for treating smoking-related illness are more than $369 million in Utah.
- Average workers compensation costs for a smoker are $2,189 each year. Average workers compensation for a non-smoker is much less, $176 per year.
- Fire insurance is commonly reduced 25%-50% in smoke-free businesses. Your risk of experiencing structural damage to your facilities from fires will decrease.
- Eliminate potential legal fees. Employees can file lawsuits against your company if they feel that they are being exposed to SHS.
- Eliminate claims based on violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Protect Employee Health
- Tobacco cessation reduces your employee’s risk of getting lung cancer, heart disease, heart attack, upper respiratory infections. Reducing the risk of these diseases will reduce health care costs.
- Smokers miss an average of 6.2 days of work each year compared to non-smokers who miss only 3.9 days of work per year.
- Eliminating smoking decreases disability time by 2.5 years for men and 1.9 years for women.
Increase Productivity and Morale
- Fewer smoke breaks means increased productivity for your employees.
- Your company will become more attractive to future employees since most Utahns do not smoke.
How to Help Employees Quit Smoking
According to studies, at any given time, 75 percent of adult smokers in Utah want to quit in the coming year, and more than 60 percent have tried to quit in the previous year. By making simple changes to your work environment, you can improve the health of your employees and save your company money.
As an employer, here are three things you can do to help your employees reach their goals to stop using tobacco:
1. Provide Tobacco Cessation Benefits Through Your Company’s Health Plan
Show your employees you want to help them quit and understand the chronic nature of tobacco dependence by designing a benefit that makes it easier for them.
- Eliminate copays or require employees to pay no more than the standard copay. Data shows that smokers rarely misuse cessation services and are more likely to use them when no copay is required.
- Provide at least two courses of treatment – both medication and counseling, per year.
Tobacco cessation benefits that have been found to be most effective cover all of the following:
- Counseling and medications
- FDA-approved medications, including both prescription and over-the-counter counseling services, and telephone and individual counseling. (While classes are also effective, few smokers attend them.)
- Several counseling sessions offered over a period of several weeks.
2. Encourage the Use of Free Tobacco Cessation Resources
The state of Utah also provides free cessation services, such as a telephone quit line and an interactive, social website. Encourage your employees to use these resources when trying to quit.
Utah Tobacco Quit Line: Employees can call 1.800.QUIT.NOW to speak with a trained coach who can help them develop a personal quit plan. All calls are free and confidential. Help is available in both English and Spanish. Hours of operation are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Online Coaching is designed to support tobacco users throughout their quitting process. It is available 24/7, and includes interactive exercises, personalized quit plan, medication support, social support community, progress trackers, and proactive e-mail messages. Those who enroll for the service will receive lifetime access. It’s free and confidential.
3. Develop and Maintain a Comprehensive Tobacco-free Policy
A tobacco-free workplace makes good business sense and creates a supportive setting for employees who want to quit using tobacco. To successfully transition to a tobacco-free environment, develop a written policy and ensure that all employees and visitors are aware of it.
For a complete, step-by-step guide to helping you create a tobacco-free policy for your company, download theKeep Your Business Healthy: A Tobacco-Free Workplace Policy Toolkit. This toolkit explains the benefits of a tobacco-free environment in the workplace and outlines what you can do as an employer to help your employees quit using tobacco and protect workers from secondhand smoke.
Visit waytoquit.org/employers for your free copy of Keep Your Business Healthy: A Tobacco-Free Workplace Policy Toolkit
To learn more about how tobacco-free policies can benefit your company, visit Tobacco Free Utah. On this website you will find information about:
- How tobacco cessation improves your bottom line.
- How to use company health plans to help employees quit.
- The return on investment when providing tobacco cessation treatment to employees.
- Other resources to assist you in creating, implementing and enforcing your new policy.