Clearing the Air: The Value of Smoking Cessation Programs

Many employers may not realize the full cost that employee smoking incurs to their company. Smokers are much more likely to develop serious chronic medical conditions, visit the doctor more often, be absent from work with an illness, or have a short- or long-term disability—all of which are very costly to an employer’s health plan and productivity.

In fact, smokers cost private employers in the United States an extra $5,816 per year compared to nonsmokers, according to researchers at Ohio State University. Of that amount, $3,077 comes from smoking breaks, since smokers, on average, take approximately five breaks a day compared to the three breaks reserved for most workers. Excess health care expenses account for $2,056, and the remaining costs are due to increased absenteeism and lost productivity.  Implementing a smoking cessation program and incorporating benefits into your health plan can lower the number of employees who smoke and dramatically affect your bottom line now and in the future.

Studies have shown that employees are much more likely to quit when smoking cessation resources are included as paid benefits in their health plan. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that smoking cessation therapy is the most cost-effective health benefit that employers can offer.

Other strategies offered through an employer health plan and in the workplace to help promote smoking cessation include:

  • Establish smoke-free policies throughout your workplace
  • Incentive programs for employees who quit and stay smoke-free
  • Flexible spending program to reimburse smoking cessation counseling and 
prescription drugs (if your plan does not cover these items)
  • On-site counseling options (or counseling referrals)
  • Employee communications for education, promoting your program, and 
encouragement for those quitting
  • Participating in special events, such as the Great American Smokeout
  • Health risk assessments to identify employee smokers
  • Develop other creative ways to offer personal support and encouragement in 
the workplace for employees who are quitting
  • Consider including spouses and dependents in your smoking cessation 

The Benefits team at The Reschini Group can help you fashion a smoking cessation Program for your particular situation.  Contact us to learn more.

Copyright 2019 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.