smoking workplace wellness

Healthy Heart Focus: Workplace Wellness Impacts on Smoking

Our continuing recognition of American Heart Month marks a good time to emphasize the role that a well-run workplace wellness program can have in helping people stop smoking.

We previously published news about an online tool — created by the Center for Medicine and Public Health at Florida State University — that calculates what tobacco costs your business.

Further, FSU notes benefits to businesses that actively address the issue: “The U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) report Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: A Clinical Practice Guideline, recommends the inclusion of tobacco cessation treatments (both pharmacotherapy and counseling) in employee health benefit packages. By adhering to the following recommendations, employers can potentially reduce the negative health and economic effects of tobacco use.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes various health benefits that come from stopping smoking. And yet, as if to demonstrate how challenging quitting can be, even with this knowledge, “among all current U.S. adult cigarette smokers, nearly 7 out of every 10 (68.0%) reported in 2015 that they wanted to quit completely.”

Benefits from Quitting Smoking

The benefits include:

  • Lowered risk for lung cancer and many other types of cancer.
  • Reduced risk for heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease (narrowing of the blood vessels outside your heart).
  • Reduced heart disease risk within 1 to 2 years of quitting.
  • Reduced respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. While these symptoms may not disappear, they do not continue to progress at the same rate among people who quit compared with those who continue to smoke.
  • Reduced risk of developing some lung diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, one of the leading causes of death in the United States).
  • Reduced risk for infertility in women of childbearing age. Women who stop smoking during pregnancy also reduce their risk of having a low birth weight baby.

FSU offers recommendations to help employers “potentially reduce the negative health and economic effects of tobacco use.” Employers should:

  • Request or select health plans that cover all effective tobacco cessation treatments and allow employees to choose their preferred approach.
  • Educate all employees about the availability of tobacco cessation benefits and encourage employees to use the benefits.
  • Consider making their workplaces tobacco free.