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Implementation of Smoke Cessation Programs in the Workplace

10 min read
Last Updated on 17 May, 2023

There was a time in the 50s when cigarette smoking was the epitome of coolness & glamour- but today, we know better.

As is the case, tobacco use poses a serious threat to one's life. I believe everyone is well aware of its negative impact on health. But we still find it very difficult to let go of that habit.

People smoke due to various reasons- be it stress, peer pressure, or in the excitement of doing something new. Even in workplaces, employees take smoking breaks now and then to refresh their minds from all the stress or bond with one another.

In fact, workplace smoking is one of the commonly witnessed terms these days. And smoking at work leads to an increase in the number of people with secondhand smoke. This can lead to various health risks, which can further hamper productivity.

As a result, employers these days are actively looking for ways to prevent employees from smoking and adopt healthier lifestyles. That brings us to the concept of Smoke Cessation Programs- a group of events or activities organized to prevent people from smoking.

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What is Secondhand Smoke?

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No Smoking Day is observed every year on the second Sunday of March to help smokers quit smoking.

Secondhand smoke or passive smoking is the inhalation of smoke exhaled by smokers or burning tobacco products.

Also known as environmental tobacco smoke, this smoke is harmful to the people present in the smoking person's environment, and they can develop severe health effects.

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Image Source: Tobacco Free Finland/Twitter

If there are people at your office who smoke before you, it is pretty normal for you to inhale the secondhand smoke as you are breathing the same air.

Breathing in a smoke-filled tobacco environment is not just unpleasant but damaging, too.

Non-smokers can develop lung cancer when exposed to such unhealthy smoke.
According to several studies, the smoke inhaled by passive smokers is more toxic than the smokers who are doing it. It is potentially life-threatening and considered a Group A carcinogen, the most dangerous carcinogen.

Look for safe cigarette substitutes like nicotine patches and gums.

Do you allow Smoking at your Workplace?

A cigarette is the only consumer product which, when used as directed, kills its consumer. - Gro Brundtland

As much as it is terrible that one smokes, smoking in the workplace is worse as it boosts the habit.

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We often witness employees going out on a 2-minute break for smoking. Many even say smoking at work helps one connect with one another.

Our colleagues sometimes might also ask us to accompany them even if we do not smoke. By doing so, we either expose ourselves to secondary smoke or start smoking under the influence of our peers, putting ourselves at risk.

However, these days, many people choose to quit smoking as they realize its consequences. People can & do quit smoking. Quitting is not only good for us but also for everyone else in our vicinity.

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Image Source: Lexie Nikole/Twitter

According to reports, in 2018, 55.1% of adult smokers in the US attempted to quit smoking. And 7.5% of adult smokers successfully quit smoking in that same year.

Start arguing with your smoking urges.

How would you feel if you could make your employees stop smoking?

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Great news: you actually can.

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Image Source: PieGuy/Twitter

That's cruel.

Nevertheless, there are better ways.

All you have to do is introduce cessation programs in your workplace. Doing so will improve the health conditions of your employees. Also, it will contribute to reducing health costs and increase productivity.

Smoking leads to several diseases, and smokers are vulnerable to sickness, which hampers efficiency in terms of work. Thus, the more one smokes, the more they fall sick. This further increases the company costs as health insurance affects a company’s revenue.

And, so does more absenteeism as smokers might fall sick, resulting in more and more sick leaves. To conclude, smoking is bound to take a toll on one’s health. Hence, the healthier the staff, the merrier for all.

Distract yourself with other habits, like taking your dog on a walk whenever you like smoking.

What are Smoke Cessation Programs?

Quitting smoking might be the hardest thing to do in life, but at least you will have one. - Anonymous

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Workplace smoking has been quite prevalent, and it often leads to sloppy behavior and poor performance of the staff. That being so, to prevent workers from smoking in workplaces, there are specific strategies.

For one, you can impose a stringent smoking ban on office premises.

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Image Source: Jon/Twitter

Not sure how effective that would be? No worries, a more constructive solution to this is a smoke cessation program.

A Smoke Cessation program includes a whole set of activities to encourage the workforce to quit smoking. These programs are primarily expected in the workplace to ensure the well-being of the employees.

Well-being is an important factor playing a big role in corporations today. You might want to create a healthy environment for your employees, as an employer. You can do that by identifying the risks and developing apt solutions.

Now, we know that workplaces are full of stress, and people often resort to smoking to combat that stress.

Thus, it is the employer’s responsibility to cater to that issue and resolve it. You can start by introducing wellness programs in your workplace. These programs can engage your employees and rejuvenate their minds and bodies. Wellness activities- physical and mental, can boost serotonin levels and keep stress at bay.

And with gamification and AI-powered platforms today, the corporate wellness scene has become smooth and convenient. From hosting step challenges to meditation sessions- there is a wide range of activities to choose from.

Therefore, implementing programs that can make employees adopt healthier habits and eliminate unhealthy ones should be highly prioritized for establishing a healthy work culture. Additionally, reward them with incentives to keep them motivated and going.

According to CDC reports, the smoking rate has dropped from 42% in 1965 to 15.1% recently.

Implementing Smoke Cessation Programs in the Workplace

You're always better off if you quit smoking; it's never too late. - Loni Anderson

As an employer, you can plan effective cessation programs by conducting various sessions and therapies in the workplace to work towards the welfare of your employees.

Provisions employers can offer employees for them to bid farewell to tobacco products-

1. Support Groups

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Conduct social group sessions where you sit with your employees and discuss the health risks of smoking. This way, you can help them, and they can help one another, promoting tobacco cessation. It is also better to convince them to let their families and friends know they want to quit smoking. Doing so will make them aware and respond accordingly during the phase.

2. Meditation Programs

As mentioned above, people often start smoking because of stress. Smoking makes them feel lighter, which prevents them from realizing its long-term consequences.

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Meditation is one practice that is known for its no-stress benefits. Meditation is an exercise that helps one achieve a calm and stable mental state. It brings awareness and focus.

So, what you can do is introduce mindfulness meditation programs and involve your employees to take the sessions. Once they start attending those sessions, they will be more connected to their inner self, worship their bodies, and realize the impact of healthy living.

3. Availability of Pharmaceutical Treatments

Nicotine replacement therapies are the most commonly used medications for quitting smoking. They decrease withdrawal feelings by offering one a small quantity of nicotine without any of the other harmful chemicals found in tobacco.

Along with keeping the urges in check, they help satisfy the cravings. Nicotine gums and patches are two examples.

4. Nutrition Tracking

Smoking is a dangerous habit that leads to life-threatening diseases. Now, if you can make your workforce conscious about their food habits, they will be more mindful of their eating habits. So, if they start following a healthy diet, smoking is unlikely to be a part of that routine.

Ask your employees to log in their meals and water intake on a daily basis. The moment they start doing it, it will be helpful for them to keep track of their nutrient intake. That might create a sort of understanding about how the habit of smoking is a hindrance to their health, and it should not be taken lightly.

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5. Smoking Programs

These programs are designed to make individuals choose the method of quitting cigarettes. You can implement these programs to inform your employees of the obstacles that arise in the quitting process and offer them solutions to cope.

These programs include counseling sessions, personally or in groups, by professionals. The sessions usually last longer than 10 minutes and more than 5 sessions. Practical counseling takes place.

The longer the session, the better the chances of success. These interactions can even happen through phone calls, which is convenient for many considering the flexible timings.

6. Awareness

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Smoke cessation programs require you to organize several campaigns to spread awareness about the harmful effects of smoking. Then, you can ask the employees to take health tests and realize the associated health risks. The wellness programs of the organization should be aligned in a way to address health risks.

Spreading regular information about smoking-related health threats through newsletters, promos, ads, payroll stuffers, and workshops does plenty of promotions.

7. Wellness Challenges

People who smoke might develop conditions of fatigue and laziness. 3-4 flights of stairs can cause a smoker to pant and be exhausted. However, the same exercise might do nothing to a non-smoker.

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You can thus implement wellness challenges at work and engage everyone in physical exercises like squats, step challenges, or cycling, among others. You should conduct weekly or monthly challenges and give a set of goals for everyone to achieve.

Even you should participate and inspire others. There should be a leaderboard to track the progress and see each other’s scores. This will build motivation and develop healthy competition in the workplace.

When smoking employees participate in the month-long challenge, they might be interested in modifying their lifestyles and quitting unhealthy habits like smoking, as these habits would prevent them from flourishing in these challenges. Also, nobody would not want to follow harmful habits when their bodies are healthy and fit.

Wellness challenges are perfect examples of forming an active lifestyle.

8. Training Sessions

Various skills training in cognitive and behavioral techniques help curb cravings. Learning sessions are for making one think about stressful situations fairly. These training sessions develop behavioral relaxation and coping components within each attendee.

9. Provisions of Financial Quit Tobacco Incentives

As an employer, you can try different strategies to keep your employee's urges to smoke down. Introduce incentives or fitness rewards for quitting smoking. Start a 30-day No Smoke Challenge and observe their movements.

The rewards can be monetary or non-monetary. But in the end, who wouldn't want rewards?

The American Lung Association gives access to affordable cessation programs.

The 5As you can use to help your employees

Today just might be the best day to start seriously thinking about quitting smoking. - Alexander Woollcott

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  • Ask: Ask your employees about their smoking urges- how frequent and how deep those urges go.

  • Advise: Talk to them personally and motivate them to leave the habit for their good health. Emphasize the hazards.

  • Assess: Follow up on their habits and see if you witness any changes in them.

  • Assist: Hold counseling sessions for employees willing to quit via telephone or face-to-face or use pharmaceutical treatments to help them.

  • Arrange: Schedule weekly appointments to see the status and continue the process.

Wrap Up

How well do you know your employees?

Probably way too much. In that case, if the employees are prone to harm through smoking, it is always better to resort to no-smoking programs, keep everyone away from danger, and maintain a healthy fresh air environment.

Working where employees and their habits are taken care of and provided solutions is a much-needed work atmosphere in today's world.

If employees are not well, it directly affects the organization's growth.

With so much stress inflicted on people these days, getting rid of such harmful practices is not a piece of cake. However, implementing smoke cessation programs is quite a workable job as long as you intend them to work.

All you must aim for is a healthier, safer, cleaner, and more productive workplace.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a smoking cessation program?

A smoke cessation program implies to a group of activities aiming to encourage smokers quit the habit of smoking.

2. What are some foods that help reduce nicotine cravings?

Fruits and vegetables, dairy products, sugar-free gum, mints, ginseng tea.

3. How is it like in the first 3 days after quitting smoking?

The first few days are the worst. One will start experiencing mood swings, irritability, headaches as the nicotine levels deplete and their body adjusts. Within less than a month, lung function starts improving.

This article is written by Dipshi Bhattacharjee. Besides working as a Content Writer at Vantage Circle, she is an animal lover with a huge fascination for Cinema, Television & Foreign languages. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

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