While the number of people smoking in the US has dramatically decreased in the past decade, there are still millions of smokers who are risking their health and life as a result of their addiction to nicotine. They also could be costing your business real dollars and cents.
According to a survey of more than 29,000 workers by the American Productivity Audit, tobacco use was a leading cause of worker lost production time — higher than both alcohol abuse and family emergencies.
Real Dollars and Cents
One major corporation found that their employees who smoked had more hospital admissions than workers who didn’t smoke: 124 per 1,000 workers vs 76 per 1,000 workers. Smoking employees also had higher average insured payment for health care than non-smokers — $1,145 vs. $762 — during an 11-month period.
If your business is covering some or all of your workers’ health insurance costs, that’s real money coming out of your bottom line.
As of 2014, 28 states have banned smoking in all enclosed public places. Many retail businesses also have banned indoor smoking, including many that most people would normally associate with smokers in the past, such as bars, restaurants and casinos.
Designated Smoking Areas
Yet many companies still allow workers to smoke on their property. Perhaps in the interest of employee relations, many businesses continue to provide employees who smoke either indoor smoking break rooms or outdoor areas where they can light up away from non-smoking co-workers.
Eliminating this employee benefit may be detrimental to employee morale — at least among those workers who still smoke — but companies can help improve the health of their workers as well as boost their own profitability by encouraging employees to quit smoking.
A Low-Cost, High-Profit Investment
Promoting cessation assistance to workers who smoke is one of the most cost-effective benefits you can offer your employees.
Things you can do to improve the chances of your employees quitting smoking include:
- Distributing a list of local cessation programs
- Post toll-free hotline numbers such as 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669)
- Post the link www.smokefree.gov for quit tips, information, and other free resources
- Providing free self-help materials
- Organizing free onsite support groups for people trying to quit smoking
- Offering free or reimbursed smoking cessation programs onsite or with local health care providers
Initiate the Conversation about Quitting
In some instances, health care providers may even help pay for counseling and medication for smokers trying to quit. Check with a representative of your business’s health care provider to find out.
Creating a dialogue about smoking can also help motivate smokers to make positive changes in their lives. One recent survey found that 70 percent of smokers say they want to quit. Your encouragement may be all it takes to get them to take the next step.