May 31 is World No Tobacco Day and is intended to encourage a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) designed 3 posters to be used by countries for promoting plain, standardized packaging of tobacco products. These images are graphic and can be downloaded here.
While campaigns to promote anti-smoking and smoking cessation programs in the workplace have been around for several years, there are many reasons to continue to promote awareness and provide employees who still smoke with positive messages to help them pursue quitting beyond this one day of the year.
The good news is that employers don't have to spend a lot to keep the flame of anti-smoking campaigns burning brightly. The government, along with other charitable organizations, provide workshops and resources to support people looking to quit smoking.
From an employer's perspective, the reasons to invest in anti-smoking awareness have primarily involved the potential for substantial cost-savings as well as sizeable productivity gains. Statistics from a 2013 Ohio State University study reveal that smokers cost their employers $5,800 a year and this amount can rise to $10,125 annually. Smoke breaks, and higher rates of absenteeism negatively impact worker productivity while higher health care expenses are seen for smokers.
Encouraging employees to "butt out" work best when there is a link to the immediate and positive health changes that result from the decision to quit.
Communication Ideas to share with employees are::
By-products of quitting smoking:
Other messages to share relate to improving one's self esteem and confidence when breaking an unhealthy habit. In addition, quitting smoking is better for the employee financially in that the cost of not buying a pack of cigarettes per day will result in savings of $5,000 or more annually.
Quitting smoking also benefits others as second-hand smoke has been proven to increase the risk of lung cancer and hearth disease in non-smokers.
Life Insurance and Benefit Costs:
From an insurance perspective, non-smokers have better life insurance rates and when it comes to benefit costs, better oral health is linked to fewer dental claims. Statistics have shown that smoking leads to heart and lung disease, stroke, osteoporosis, cataracts, cancer and other chronic life-threatening diseases, and that leads to higher benefit claims. Creating a practical cost benefit analysis related to morbidity and claims costs draws a direct line comparison particularly when there is employee cost-sharing for benefit costs.
Employees gain from learning about the type and degree of support provided in the workplace and community. Work with your advisor to get information about what insurance carriers offer as well as information about coverage for smoking cessation products in addition to their customer service centre toll-free numbers.
Employees should also include a Q&A or information about how employees get a claim paid for a smoking cessation product and what items are covered. For example, the definition of a Natural Health Product (NPN) as well and listing types of NPNs such as the Nicotine patch, gum, lozenge and inhaler are helpful.
It is also vital to provide instructions about claims submission, what receipts are required, what needs to be included on the claim form and how to access claim forms.
In addition, employees benefit from being provided information about additional free support such as:
You can quit smoking. We can help.
Smokers Helpline: 1 877 513-5333
For more information about other free resources, or methods for positively impacting your group benefits plan, please contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on wha you do best.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.