The Importance of Creating Comprehensive Tobacco-free Worksite Policies
by Tracy DeCubellis, M.S.

November 21, 2019

It is no secret that tobacco use is harmful. Despite our knowledge of the multitude of carcinogens and toxins in tobacco, people still use it during work hours. According to the Center for Disease control, tobacco use in the workplace accounts for the most lost worker productivity compared to other causes such as family emergencies or alcohol abuse (1).

Tobacco use and recreational nicotine use via e-cigarettes at work can cost employers money. The loss of productivity for a business with smokers is estimated to cost $4,056 in productivity and $2,056 in medical costs per year (2). Additionally, unless an employer creates a tobacco-free policy for the workplace that includes e-cigarettes and vapor products, employees may be able to use their recreational nicotine devices at work. Some counties and municipalities have laws regulating these products, but Florida does not restrict their use indoors.

Businesses that create tobacco-free campus policies protect the health and wellbeing of employees. This type of campus wide policy may encourage employees who use tobacco to quit the habit, especially if the campus tobacco-free policy includes cessation help for those who currently use tobacco or recreational nicotine products like e-cigarettes. This is important because statewide, of the 15.8% of adults who currently smoke, 64.9% of them have tried to stop in the last year (3).

A worksite wellness trend in the U.S. is companies providing expanded services for employee wellness programs. In fact, recent studies show that 74% of businesses are considering increasing programs (4). Seventy percent of employers who have established wellness programs found them to be cost-effective (5). The trend across the State of Florida is businesses creating tobacco-free campus policies and enhanced worksite wellness policies that include cessation coverage. Now, most college campuses are tobacco-free as are many hospitals in the State of Florida.

Another exciting trend in Florida, is the availability of recognition for businesses that provide cessation benefits to employees from the Florida Tobacco Cessation Alliance (FTCA). Employers that offer cessation medications and counseling through their insurance benefits can apply for recognition at the FTCA website http://ftcalliance.com/worksite-wellness/.

Each owner or manager of a business or community organization can take a step to improve the health of employees and boost their bottom-line through tobacco-free policies. If you would like more information on the QuitDoc Foundation, or the Tobacco Prevention Program, please contact Prevention Specialist Lauren Fischer at 352.598.8241 or Lfischer@QuitDoc.com


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References:

  1. Centers for Disease Control. (n.d.). Implementing a tobacco-free campus initiative in your workplace. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/hwi/toolkits/tobacco/
  2. Berman M, Crane R, Seiber E, et al. Estimating the cost of a smoking employee
    Tobacco Control Published Online First: 03 June 2013. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050888
  3. Florida Department of Health. (2015). Florida Behavioral Risk Factor Data. Retrieved from http://www.flhealthcharts.com/charts/Brfss.aspx
  4. Attridge, M. (n.d.). EAP integration with worksite wellness programs. Retrieved from http://www.eapassn.org/EAPIntegration
  5. Ibid.