Managing Wellness

The Great American Smokeout: How to Help Your Employees Quit Smoking

  • Smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable disease and premature death in the U.S.
  • It is also responsible for decreased productivity and increased health care costs in the workplace
  • The American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout every year, and has many resources on its website to assist companies that want to help their employees stop smoking
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Posted by November 15, 2017

It’s no secret that tobacco use is harmful. In fact, smoking is the No. 1 cause of preventable disease and premature deaths in the U.S. Despite the warnings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly 37 million people still smoke.

Smoking also affects businesses by decreasing productivity and increasing health care costs. As an employer, you can help educate and encourage your employees to quit smoking by participating in the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 16, 2017.

Health Risks and Dental Complications

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in both men and women. Around 90 percent of lung cancers are linked to smoking. Consuming tobacco also creates a strong risk factor for oral cancers, the American Cancer Society notes.

Since tobacco products can harm almost every organ in the body, other cancers that may result from smoking include bladder, kidney, stomach and pancreas, pharynx, larynx and esophagus. In addition, smokers are at risk for acute myeloid leukemia.

As the CDC points out, smoking can lead to other serious medical conditions besides cancer. The habit can precipitate chronic bronchitis and asthma, heart issues, blood vessel problems and complications during pregnancy (such as cleft lip, low birth weight and miscarriage). Smokers also have a higher risk for gum disease and tooth loss, as well as loss of sight due to macular degeneration.

Nicotine Addiction

While nonsmokers may assume that it’s easy to stop smoking, smoking is a very difficult addiction to beat. Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco that affects mood and performance, which then reinforces its use, Medscape explains. Nicotine acts as a stimulant to get the smoker up and going in the morning, then as a depressant to allow the smoker to relax throughout the day. When a smoker doesn’t have access to tobacco, they experience nicotine withdrawal.

Great American Smokeout Resources

Almost 70 percent of smokers want to quit, according to the CDC, and more than 4 in 10 smokers attempt to quit each year. But very few smokers can quit without some sort of help. By participating in the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout campaign this November, your company can shed light on the importance of quitting and provide employees valuable assistance in their attempt to kick the habit.

The American Cancer Society has a plethora of resources, both educational and supportive, that will help make your Smokeout event a success. The organization also offers materials and templates to use for messaging and promoting the campaign, in addition to posters, educational fliers, print ads, stickers and quit cards.

Quit for Life®

The telephone-based, tobacco-cessation system known as Quit for Life® is another useful resource for employees trying to quit smoking. This collaboration between the American Cancer Society and Optum has helped more than a million smokers make a plan to quit once and for all.

Participants have unlimited toll-free access to a Quit Coach® and Web Coach®—an online community offering educational information, tools for quitting and social support. Text messages are personalized for each person’s quit plan and motivational emails are sent throughout the process. After six months, each participant receives a follow-up call to document the last day they used tobacco. If they have gone 30 days without smoking, they are considered someone who has quit.

Keeping Employees on Track

Quitting smoking is a process, so encouraging employees to make small weekly goals along the way can keep them from being discouraged. Additionally, implementing a recognition program that rewards those who have reached milestones can boost individuals’ motivation to stay with the program.

By offering a platform for employees to share their success stories, those still struggling may learn something new, eventually leading to their own success. One other tip: you can make smoking a bit more inconvenient by limiting the outdoor space where it’s allowed.

By joining in the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 16, you can reduce the amount of sick time and smoke breaks your employees take—both of which interfere with productivity and health care costs. Signing up will also send the important message to your employees that the company is behind them every step of the way and supports their efforts to live a healthier, smoke-free life.

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