Tue, September 22, 2015
By Jennifer S. Wolowitz, Central Florida Area Health Education Center
Smokers cost the U.S. approximately $193 billion per year. New research estimates that each smoker costs their employer roughly $5800 per year; surprisingly, the largest component of this expense is due to lost productivity from smoking breaks at a whopping $3077 annually and not due to healthcare expenses.
So, what's the solution for a company with smokers in its workforce? One method is a smoking surcharge implemented in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. Employers are now allowed to impart a $50 smoking surcharge to their smoking workforce, saving the company thousands per employee and creating an incentive for smokers to quit (for additional information on this surcharge click here). It is strongly recommended, however, that employers provide a grace period before implementing the surcharge and providing ample opportunity and resources to help their employees smokers quit smoking.
By providing a "countdown" to the implantation of a surcharge along with ongoing smoking cessation programs around the office, employers provide an effective way to reduce healthcare costs, improve workplace productivity, and provide a message to employees that their health and happiness matters.
One West Orange Chamber member is offering 100% free tobacco cessation services which focuses on behavior modification and also offers combination nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) like patches, lozenges and gum at no cost to participants. The Central Florida Area Health Education Center (CFAHEC) is offering free in-person programs which could benefit your organization, employees, their families, your customers, and the community at large.
CFAHEC offers both an hourly, six session program called Quit Smoking Now and a single two hour program called Tools to Quit. Free nicotine replacement therapy is provided to participants in both programs. To set up a program at your business or for additional information about local smoking cessation programs call the CFAHEC at 407-889-2292.
The CFAHEC offers the “come in” portion of the anti-tobacco campaign on television that offers tobacco users the opportunity to “call, click, or come in.” The AHEC IQuit tobacco program can be made available to your staff, their families, and your customers at your place of business before, during, or after business hours. These group programs include in-person coaching with a tobacco treatment specialist and participants will receive tobacco cessation educational materials and the necessary tools to assist tobacco users in developing a successful quit plan. This service is available at absolutely no cost in all 67 counties in the state of Florida.
The Florida AHEC Network is funded through the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement to provide free cessation programs and nicotine replacement therapy throughout Florida.
For more information on CFAHEC and Tobacco Free Florida, online click here.