Posted by: Erica Hudak
Date: August 14, 2017
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly 70 percent of adult smokers want to quit. That’s not surprising, since cigarette smoking is the single-largest cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. Tobacco users aren’t the only ones vulnerable: 41,000 deaths of nonsmoking adults in the United States are attributed to second-hand smoke every year.
Besides the health impact of tobacco use, there are also implications to a company’s bottom line. An employee that smokes costs employers an estimated $6,000 more annually than one who doesn’t. The CDC also reports that tobacco use costs our economy billions of dollars each year in medical care and lost productivity. As an employer, why wouldn’t you want to help employees quit tobacco?
While users may want to quit and employers would like them to, quitting is not easy to do on your own. The primary ingredient in tobacco products is nicotine, an addictive chemical substance found in the tobacco plant. Sales-oriented tobacco companies add other chemicals to cigarettes to make them even more addictive, so they can sell more products.
When you use tobacco products, the nicotine and chemicals are absorbed into your bloodstream. Nicotine can reach the brain in as little as 10 seconds, causing a release of dopamine and a pleasurable sensation. The feeling doesn’t last long and as it fades, you’ll want to use more tobacco to feel the sensation again. This cycle leads to addiction and can force people to continue smoking even when they want to quit.
Employers can begin to affect change in their workplace culture and their employees’ health by getting serious about tobacco cessation. As we have seen, tobacco use is more than just a habit. There are a wide variety of quitting methods available, but how do you tell which kind is most effective?
Research has shown that a customized quit plan that includes both counseling and medication options (like nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)) is proven to be most successful. According to one study published in General Internal Medicine and by the National Institutes of Health, “smoking cessation treatment doubles or triples quit rates.”
Former tobacco users having long-term success have laid out a detailed plan. They surround themselves with people who support them, such as a health coach certified in smoking cessation, or a spouse with the same goal. They explore and discuss NRT options and whether they might be a good fit. They lean on willpower, constant reminders about why they want to quit, and regular communication to keep well-being and health foremost in their minds.
Another advantage of professional support is that a health coach can help regardless of where a person is in their readiness to quit. If you’ve never considered this kind of approach, research says your chances of benefitting from a tobacco-free workplace will be greater if you do!
The following are quick tips employers can share:
For more information on successful smoking cessation, contact BeneFIT Corporate Wellness/BeneQUIT.