Tobacco is a leading cause of preventable deaths and diseases in the United States, and illnesses related to smoking have cost the country around $300 billion each year. Given the monumental toll smoking has had, it is vital for business owners to consider planning and enacting a tobacco cessation program for their employees. Case studies and scientific evidence have both demonstrated that cessation programs are an effective way to end smoking. If you’re planning to implement smoking cessation programs and seek assistance, here are some best practices to consider.

Assess Your Company

First, you need to assess your company to learn what systems are in place and to make preparations for the cessation program. Many companies already have smoking policies in place, and knowing the precise guidelines will help you learn what needs to change. For example, knowing who is responsible for reviewing and approving new policies is crucial for making change. Additionally, you must understand your company’s strengths and weaknesses inside and out so that you can predict how they will impact the integration of a new policy.

Review Coverage

Next, you must review the existing health benefits coverages your company has. By doing so, you can determine whether the therapies and medications for the cessation are covered by the benefit plan of your business. Examine the cessation treatments covered by your current insurance plans and, if necessary, expand insurance coverages, so they include the necessary programs. It’s essential to ask about the limits on treatment, counseling requirements, and other pertinent details. Not knowing these details ahead of time can throw a wrench in the implementation of smoking cessation programs for employers if you are unprepared for them.

Devise Your New Policy

Now it’s time to form a change team to spearhead the drafting of your new smoking policy. There are many different details you will need to consider for the cessation policy, including

• Coverage for counseling and pharmaceutical aides
• Financially supporting smokers who attempt to quit
• Protocol for treating those who want to quit
• Hiring a wellness company to treat patients
• Offering cessation incentives to encourage them to quit smoking
• Incorporating state quitlines, an easily accessible and cost-effective cessation service
• Providing other wellness services and activities

Additionally, you must also create a detailed document outlining the smoking cessation program goals and objectives. Key information should include:

• Purpose of the policy, who is affected by the policy
• Consequences of non-compliance
• Cessation training to inform all employees of changes
• And other pertinent details

While it may seem appealing to only implement small-scale policy changes that will be met with less resistance from your staff, more significant changes will be more impactful in the long run. It is advisable to observe and record the smoking cessation programs for employers set forth by companies similar to yours and learn from their experience.

Implement Policy

There are several steps you can take to successfully implement your company’s new cessation policy. Devise a timetable to plan the creation to outline the schedule of your transition to the new policies, including the effective date of the program’s integration, changing of the employee
handbooks, and more. It can take between four to six months to fully complete the transition.

The manner in which management speaks of the changes also needs to be considered. For example, focus on the danger secondhand smoke poses to other employees and not on the smokers themselves. In addition, it is beneficial to anticipate questions ahead of time and prepare answers for employees — staff who were used to smoking at your company may be disappointed with the new policy, while others may wonder how the cessation program will affect their daily activities. Sharing academic research and data about smoking cessation programs for employers with your employees will help inform them and demonstrate the positive effects they can have.

Another important step in implementing a successful smoking cessation program for employers is partnering with a professional healthcare provider like Wellness Coaches. We offer a plethora of services to promote the wellbeing of your business, including our corporate health coaching programs. For more information on the benefits of wellness coaching and our other services, reach out today and schedule your appointment with us.