News and Events

The Importance of Creating Comprehensive Tobacco-free Worksite Policies
Tracy DeCubellis, M.S. and Kristina Zachry, M.P.H.

November 11, 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use in the workplace accounts for the most lost productivity among workers, compared to other causes such as family emergencies or alcohol abuse (1).

Tobacco 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. Due to a recent amendment of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, Florida now restricts the use of e-cigarettes indoors.

In Florida alone, the annual direct costs to the economy attributable to smoking exceed $19.6 billion, including workplace productivity losses of $4.4 billion; premature death losses of $7.9 billion; and direct medical expenditures of $7.2 billion. (3)

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, especially if the campus tobacco-free policy includes cessation help for those who currently use tobacco or 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 (4).

A worksite wellness trend in the U.S. includes companies providing expanded services for employee wellness programs. In fact, a recent government study that looked at workplace health in America showed that almost half of all U.S. worksites offered some type of health promotion or wellness program in 2017 (5). The recent trend across the State of Florida are businesses who are creating tobacco-free campus policies and enhanced worksite wellness policies that include tobacco cessation coverage. Most college campuses, all K-12 schools, and many hospitals in the State of Florida are now tobacco-free.

In Levy County, the College of Central Florida and the School Board of Levy County have implemented tobacco free worksites with success. Both school systems have integrated electronic cigarettes into their policies and have done a great job of communicating the policy and linking students and staff to tobacco and nicotine cessation resources, as well as continually educating them about the Quit Your Way resources that are available in Florida, the health risks and concerns of using tobacco products and e-cigarettes, and the benefits of being a tobacco free worksite.

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. For more information or for help in creating a tobacco-free worksite policy, please contact the QuitDoc Foundation at 866-355-QUIT (866-355-7848), or at info@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. 1 Penn State. “Potential Costs and Benefits of Smoking Cessation for Florida.” 30 April 2010. Web. 1 March 2011. http://www.lungusa.org/stop-smoking/tobacco-control-advocacy/reports-resources/cessation-economicbenefits/reports/SmokingCessationTheEconomicBenefits.pdf
  4. Florida Department of Health. (2015). Florida Behavioral Risk Factor Data. Retrieved from http://www.flhealthcharts.com/charts/Brfss.aspx
  5. Linnan, L, et al. Results of the Workplace Health in America Survey American Journal of Health Promotion First Published: 22 April 2019.  Doi: 10.1177/0890117119842047