Has your organization started a formal smoking cessation program?
Even if it’s not in the budget, you can adopt some of the newer employee education techniques used in successful plans.
What’s out: Harping on the message that smoking causes lung cancer, emphysema, etc. Virtually every smoker knows the risks by now. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the issues of smoking and serious health conditions, but it shouldn’t be the only focus.
What’s in: The employee education trend has moved toward teaching people strategies to overcome the barriers that keep them from quitting.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommends that before smokers try another cessation attempt, they look at past quit attempts – what helped and what led to relapse. Three common relapse triggers:
- social drinking. Many smokers get their strongest cigarette cravings when they’re in social situations that involve drinking alcohol.
- smokers at home. Having other people in the household who smoke in the employee’s presence greatly reduces the chance of a successful quit attempt, and
- the weaning approach. While some people can quit gradually, those who go cold turkey are usually better off once they get through the first few weeks of discomfort.
Identify non-health benefits
Your employees’ doctors likely already review the health benefits of quitting with their patients.
While it’s good to provide info that supports this message, you may want to make your focus the non-health rewards of quitting.
Example: Show smokers how much money they can save by quitting. Multiply the cost of a pack of cigarettes by the days or weeks of the year. Then add the cost difference between your health plan’s premiums for smokers and non-smokers.
One final step: Encourage people to set a personal “quit date,” preferably within two weeks. Many people respond best to deadlines – even when the deadlines are self-imposed.