Health Cost to Your Employees
- Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking causes an estimated 438,000 deaths, or about 1 of every 5 deaths, each year. This estimate includes approximately 38,000 deaths from secondhand smoke exposure.
- More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.
- Worldwide, tobacco use causes more than 5 million deaths per year.
- On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.
- Cigarette smoking increases the length of time that people live with a disability by about 2 years.
- Smoking causes cancers of the bladder, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx (voice box), esophagus, cervix, kidney, lung, pancreas, and stomach, and causes acute myeloid leukemia.
- Smoking causes coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smokers are 2–4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than nonsmokers.
Financial Burden on Your Business
- During 2000–2004, cigarette smoking was estimated to be responsible for $193 billion in annual health-related economic losses in the United States ($96 billion in direct medical costs and approximately $97 billion in lost productivity).
- The total economic costs (direct medical costs and lost productivity) associated with cigarette smoking are estimated at $10.47 per pack of cigarettes sold in the United States.
- Cigarette smoking results in 5.1 million years of potential life lost in the United States annually.
- In 1999, the estimated cost per smoker was $4,087 annually.
Creating a Plan to Become a Tobacco-Free Workplace
Implement a Policy
A tobacco-free policy lets your employees know that you care about their health! The policy should be linked to your organization's values, vision, and goals, so that your employees know that their health is vital to the success and vision of the organization. It's also important that the policy fit into the overall strategy for creating a tobacco-free workplace. A good policy is supported by resources and incentives to provide a way for your employees to successfully follow the policy.
The Professional Assisted Cessation Therapy (PACT) organization recommends the following tips when deciding on a tobacco cessation strategy/policy:
- Is the organization willing to support employees with resources (e.g., reimbursement for medication, smoking cessation counseling) to help them quit while it restricts their ability to smoke during work hours?
- How will the policy fit into the overall organizational smoking strategy? Will the company also provide support (e.g., corporate culture, health benefit design) for employees who wish to smoke?
- What do relevant laws and ordinances require?
- In light of the organization's culture, employee health, and the work environment, what policy will provide the best protection?
- What policy will be most beneficial to the organization?
- What policy will management and employees support?
- What are customer and community expectations?
- What policies, if any, already exist, and how are they perceived?
- What support programs and benefits already exist to help smokers and their families quit?
- Has the firm developed an employee and management communications and training strategy for articulating and managing the smoking policy?
- Does the implementation timetable allow a transition period?
- Has legal counsel reviewed the policy and its implementation/communications plan?
Tobacco is extremely addictive, and many people who use tobacco would like to quit and have tried several times without success. If your organization's goal is to become tobacco-free, then supporting your tobacco dependent employees is a must.
- Resources - Promote online cessation guides and websites that provide information on tobacco cessation. Provide brochures and information to your employees. Brochures, posters, pamphlets, and guides are available to order from the CDC, NIH, and National Cancer Institute among others.
The Employer's Smoking Cessation Guide , Second Edition, a resource developed by PACT (Professional Assisted Cessation Therapy), an independent consortium of leaders in the treatment of tobacco dependence, is a useful guide to employers seeking to develop a smoking cessation plan.
While the health and cost benefits of tobacco cessation are strong incentives, many employees need that extra push to become tobacco free.
- Tobacco Surcharge - If your organization surcharges tobacco users on their health insurance premium, then eliminate this premium for successfully completing counseling and becoming tobacco free.
- Reimbursement for Classes - Reimburse your employees for successfully completing a tobacco cessation class series and quitting tobacco.