Creating a smoke-free workplace requires more than just posting a large sign.
While tobacco use has declined fairly steadily for the last 50 years, individuals continue to smoke, putting themselves and others at risk for health problems later in life. Make starting a smoke-free workplace one of the cornerstones of your employee wellness program
In addition to improved productivity, studies have shown that non-smokers have fewer absences on average and lower insurance costs. The CDC recently reported that individuals who smoke incur at least $15,000 more in lifetime medical expenses and are absent from work at least two days more per year than non-smokers. Thus, it’s often in the best interest in of a company to implement a smoke-free workplace policy.
Here are 15 tips to get you started creating a smoke-free workplace.
15 Tips to Start Smoke-Free Workplace
- Decide what you mean by “smoke-free.”: Are you targeting smoking specifically, or do you want to try to eliminate all tobacco use? Also, does the smoke-free workplace apply only to the company building, or does it extend to the entire corporate campus?
- Look to government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help. In addition to information on implementing a tobacco-free program, the CDC’s website contains countless resources on creating a number of wellness programs.
Offer an incentive to employees who quit smoking. The prize is up to you. Paid time off, cash bonuses, or even a prize such as a custom briefcase may be enough to get some folks interested in quitting.
Reward employees who quit with a valuable prize, such as the Victorinox Trevi Laptop Case.
- Consult your company insurance provider. Most insurance companies have cessation literature, classes, and other resources that you can share with employees.
- Offer cessation classes and support groups on-site. Make it easy for employees to quit by giving them access to seminars and support groups in the company building.
- Leverage the results of a health-risk appraisal. Sometimes, seeing a prognosis in black-and-white will coerce someone into action. While you will need to be careful how you use such sensitive information, a health-risk appraisal is often the first step toward quitting.
- Schedule a speaker to promote tobacco cessation. Hearing stories from people who have overcome the same obstacles often makes it easier fro individuals to make a big choice such as tobacco cessation.
- Offer cessation benefits to employee spouses. Creating a smoke-free workplace also means creating a smoke-free home environment. Improve your staff’s success rate by making sure smokers trying to quit have support at home as well as the office.
- Look online for additional resources on tobacco cessation. Sites such as endsmoking.org offer comprehensive resources on creating a smoke-free workplace. Employ the materials they provide or just use them as a background for your own cessation package.
- Treat smokers with respect. Remember that smokers are people, too. The last thing you want to do in creating a healthier work environment is alienate a segment of your work force or divide the office into factions.
- Look to other companies for guidance. Are you in an office park? How have other companies handled tobacco cessation? Could your company benefit from working with another one?
Participate in a national smokeout. Encourage employees to sign up for the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout in November, which also has a number of resources available for creating a smoke-free workplace.
The anatomical heart stress ball is a perfect marketing complement to company participation in national events like the Great American Smokeout.
- Encourage input from non-smokers and smokers. Your smoke-free workplace policy should be the result of discussion from both non-smokers and smokers. Garnering input from both groups will lessen the possibility of either group resenting the other or feeling alienated by management.
- Know what you’re addressing. Keep the discussion focused on how smoking impacts the company’s bottom line—through productivity loss and higher insurance costs—rather than directing it toward an individual’s smoking habit. Whenever possible, avoid making the issue a personal one.
- Be prepared to help employees through multiple quit attempts. Quitting smoking is difficult and often necessitates continued effort. Make sure your workplace wellness programs are designed to offer ongoing support to smokers attempting to quit.
The Bottom Line
A smoke-free workplace doesn’t just happen overnight. These 15 tips for ideas on creating a smoke-free workplace only begin to scratch the surface. The most important thing to remember is to be sensitive to employees trying to quit smoking and help them however you can. Sometimes, a wellness incentive could help.
Do you have a smoke-free workplace? How did company policy help shape it? Did your company offer assistance to employees trying to quit?
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