The Hidden Costs of Smoking

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It’s easy to loose track of the actual costs associated with smoking. When you look behind the scenes, you will realize why the utilization of Smoker Cessation Programs are important and how Employees and Employers can benefit from this type of Wellness Program .

Healthcare

$3,400 in excess expenses each year in the form of premium pricing, deductibles or copays/insurance due to conditions associated with one person’s use.

Smoke Breaks (Average)

1.25/hrs per day

6.25/hrs per week

291/hrs per year

Family Health

Parents who smoke have a higher rate of children with Respiratory and ENT issues. They are also more likely to become smokers themselves.

Lifetime Costs

On average, a smoker will spend $150,000 on cigarettes throughout their life.

As an Individual, how can you access help to quit smoking?

  • First and foremost, you should always check with your health insurance company. Many offer programs and incentives to quit smoking. Your insurance company also may cover some prescription drugs proven to help fight the urges. They can give you a list of the covered Rx with your costs so that you can visit your doctor and discuss the best option.
  • Federal, State and local resources are also a great place to look. Many organizations have started programs that are low cost or free to use. The American Cancer Society has a whole website full of tools and information, while Federal Government offers two websites, BeTobaccoFree.gov and smokefree.gov
  • Apps: If you look in your App Store, you can find tons of programs designed to help you quit smoking by offering a savings calculator, inspirational messages and helpful tips. Some of these Apps are free of cost, but others do require you purchase them.
  • Get help from someone who went through it. If you want to chat via the internet or speak on the phone, there are free services for you to utilize. Counselors who are trained specifically to help smokers quit are available to speak on the phone or via Livechat. For information, click here.
  • Text Message Programs are becoming more and more common. You can have texts sent to you for a variety of reasons but you can also receive texts to help you stay on track and be motivated. SmokefreeTXT is one place that offers this service free of charge.




As an Employer, how can you help your Employees quit smoking?

There are many reasons why an Employer has an incentive to help their Employees quit smoking. Besides the general concern for their health and wellbeing, smoking can be linked to a decrease in productivity as well as increasing the costs of the Benefit Package you offer.

  • Find out if your Employee Benefits have any Smoking Cessation Programs included. Often times, these benefits are included in a Health or Supplemental Plan, but go unnoticed by your Employees and possibly even you, yourself. Find out what these programs are and spread that information to them via a flyer, email or even during a meeting.
  • Offering Incentives is always a nice way of encouraging people to continue to not smoke. As an Employer, you probably have a good idea of what kinds of incentives you can afford to offer and what your Employees will respond best to. GE decided to offer a flat payment for any Employee who quit $750. That incentive drove a good number of Employees to quit and that one time payment ends up saving the company money for the long haul. Avoid “cookie-cutter” incentives. The design should be flexible enough to appeal to the various demographics of your work force.
  • Make your property smoke-free. This one might cause an uproar, however, by not allowing smoking on your property, you have helped to take away the temptation of “Stepping outside real quick” It also makes your workplace seem more professional and also more welcoming by not having people standing right out front of your business.
  • Establish a tobacco-free policy at the workplace. The American Lung Association has an easy to understand Policy that you can use to inform your Employees of the new Policy. Tobacco Surcharge Programs are also gaining tract with larger companies, however you must be careful with how this is structured.
  • Hire an outside company. If Quitting Smoking is a big priority for your company, then consider hiring outside help. If you have an Employee Benefits Broker, ask them to come in and present to your Employees the programs offered by their Insurance and Supplement Policies. You can buy digital programs such as the ex Program You can also hire motivational speakers who specialize in quiting to come speak or hire a firm that offers all the training, support and incentives in a bundle.
  • Avoid Judgment! Most Smokers make 8-10 attempts before actually quitting. Seeing an employee continue to smoke is frustrating, but if employees feel judged or berated, they’ll be less likely to reach out for the support you provided.
  • Legal Stuff: Always make sure your program is fair and doesn’t impose on your Employee’s rights. You may also consider offering other Wellness Programs with incentives to help address other Issues that affect your company (Enviromental Programs can offer incentives for things such as having a Carpool, not using plastic utensils, better recycling, etc etc.. You could have an overall Wellness Program that offers incentives for losing weight, Finacial Wellness Programs that help Employees set up retirement accounts or savings through direct withdrawl and have fiancial advisors explain how to budget better. Incentives for continuous saving could include matching contributions up until a certain amount). The goal is to make sure everyone can be included in a program so that everyone has the chance to be included and be offered an incentive. If you rather have one program, make sure to offer an incentive for those who, in this case, do not smoke, to continue to follow that choice.

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