When it comes to preventable health problems, smoking is certainly at the top of the list. Tobacco use is responsible for approximately 7% of total disease and injury in Australia and costs an enormous 30 billion dollars a year, with over 8 billion burdening Australian businesses annually.
As with most health problems, smoking not only damages the wellbeing of employees and their families, but has a detrimental effect on workplace productivity as well. With so much ill health driven by something as preventable as smoking, the good news is that there are plenty of ways for employers to proactively address tobacco use and initiate a positive change.
Smoking cessation programs are one of the most affordable ways of improving organisational health and maximising ROI on workplace health initiatives.
Encouraging and supporting employees to quit smoking reduces absenteeism from smoking related illnesses, decreases early retirement due to poor health, increases productivity and supports a commitment to a healthy workplace. Consider some of the suggestions for implementing smoking cessation programs below.
Planning a Workplace Smoking Cessation Program
It’s always important to tailor any workplace health programs to individual company needs, and smoking cessation programs are no different. Begin by surveying staff to diagnose tobacco use and attitudes to smoking within your organisation. There are four main groups a smoking cessation program needs to address:
• Current smokers who would like to quit smoking and need support and education to help them achieve this.
• Current smokers who are not ready to stop smoking but may benefit from education and incentives to motivate them to quit.
• Ex-smokers who have already quit but need continuing support to prevent them from relapsing.
• Non-smokers who have concerns about the effects of tobacco use in the workplace and may like to assist in supporting a smoking cessation program.
Promoting Awareness of the Benefits of Smoking Cessation
Employee awareness of the serious health risks tobacco use poses is central to gaining maximum uptake in smoking cessation programs. Health checks within the context of broader health promoting activities can be a great way to open a dialogue for quitting smoking, as can hiring an external provider to run an on-site seminar on smoking cessation.
Provide information in the form of brochures, posters, and newsletter articles that outline the dangers of smoking and direct employees to external resources such as Quitline.
Creating a Supportive Atmosphere for Smoking Cessation
Given proper training and education, the workplace can provide an ideal supportive environment for smoking cessation. It is important to treat smoking as a serious addiction and understand that quitting is a challenging endeavour that requires a lot of encouragement.
Smokers should never be made to feel stigmatised, and smoking cessation efforts should be seen as part of a broader initiative to achieve a healthier workplace as a whole.
Integrating smoking cessation within a more comprehensive health program also helps to introduce other healthy behaviours that support quitting smoking, such as exercise and stress management.
For instance, encouraging breaks for employees to take a short walk not only increases physical activity in the workplace but may help someone missing their usual ‘smoko’ catch up with their colleagues to chat. It’s a much healthier time-out and a great stress buster for all.
For more information on Smoking Cessation, and Health Programs contact Healthworks on 1300 90 10 90 (International: IDD 61-2-9954-1888) or contact us.