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Becoming Tobacco-Free Means Disney Trip

Written By: Scott Costello

Making your workplace tobacco-free has can have more benefits that you might imagine, said Ellen Everett, human resources coordinator for Sandvik Mining.

“One employee who has seven kids agreed with his wife to save all the money they weren’t spending on tobacco and take their family to Disney World,” she said. “The couple got the whole family involved.”

Everett spoke at the first installment of Company Lifestyle, a four-part series of workshops sponsored by FloridaWorks in collaboration with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Sandvik began promoting a smoke-free workplace at the beginning of the year then implemented the policy July 1. Tobacco Free Alachua provides educational sessions, posters, counseling and other support.

Tobacco Free Alachua is trying to turn around employers’ worries that tobacco users will balk at quitting, said Health Policy Specialist Marilyn Headley.

“Research shows that 70 percent of smokers want to quit,” Headley said. “They don’t know what options they have.”

Maximizing those options is a key to quitting, Headley said. If people have access to counseling—in person, on the phone or online—and use nicotine replacement therapy, they double their chances of quitting.

Providing access through health insurance to counseling and nicotine replacements of gum, patches and lozenges, as well as to Chantix and Zyban, pays off, Headley said.

“It’s good to eliminate barriers, such as co-pays and deductibles and to pay for a least two attempts to quit a year,” she said. “Quitting is hard.

“Support by having a tobacco-free policy helps. It reduces the temptation and the triggers, such as smoking on breaks,” he said.

Sandvik has not needed to punish any employees, although it has a policy that taking excessive breaks can be punished, Everett said.

“We make it clear we’re not telling them they have to quit. We’re just asking them not to do it in our facility,” she said. “It’s kind of like raising kids.”

The average tobacco user costs a company about $4,000 in lost productivity and $2,000 in extra health care expense a year, Headley said.

Company Lifestyle is free to all businesses. For more information, email Shareen Bapstiste, [email protected]


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