This headline caught my eye in the NBC Health News “Smoking employees cost $6,000 a year more, study finds.” Is it no wonder why there are more and more employersCost of smoking seeking to put smoking policies into the workplace?

The study by Micah Berman of Ohio State University, was a culmination of reviewing studies on health care costs, presenteeism – “when people are at work but not putting in full effort” states Berman. In addition, Berman and his colleagues, reviewed studies that calculated the cost of more sick days by smokers and the cost of employee smoke breaks. Smoke breaks were included in lost productivity of smokers taking longer breaks due to the smoking ban within the workplace.

In the booklet Save Lives, Save Money, Make your Business Smoke-Free by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  have a few unexpected reasons why a smoke-free work place is good for the bottom line.

  • Going smoke-free reduces the risk of fires and accidental injuries
  • Going smoke-free reduces cleaning and maintenance costs
  • Going smoke-free reduces potential legal liability for legal suits from non-smokers

Here are a few tips from the CDC if you want to implement a workplace smoking policy:

  • Give yourself six months to a year to plan the new policy
  • Set up a task force to oversee the process, include top management, smokers, non-smokers
  • Gather information to educate the task force. Survey your employees to understand their needs and concerns.
  • Write the policy. Keep it clear, simple and straightforward. Address how the policy will work and how it will enforced.
  • Announce the policy. Several months before the start date send out a letter from top management to introduce policy.
  • Offer support to all employees who want to quit smoking, such as free or reimbursed cessation programs on-site or through local providers, and nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Start policy
  • Monitor the policy and continue to get feedback from both employees and other stakeholder groups.

Implementing a smoke-free workplace policy will create both healthier employees as well as a healthier business bottom line.

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