Employers benefit from tobacco free worksite policies

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY — Employees are a valuable resource in every business. Although fewer people today are smoking, employees who smoke during work hours can cost employers $4,056 in lost productivity annually. This is a result of frequent smoke breaks, increased number of sick days, and distraction. Health care costs can increase by as much as $2,056 per smoking employee for a total of $6,112. A hidden cost is low morale among non-smokers who are likely being asked to cover for the co-worker who is outside smoking. Could this be your worksite?

Several local worksites are making big strides in supporting the health and well-being of their employees by adopting tobacco free worksite policies. QuitDoc Foundation and The Tobacco Free Partnership of Okeechobee are proud to partner with these businesses to establish a written policy that prohibits all tobacco products. Tobacco products are defined as the following, which include but are not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, cigarillos, tobacco chew, plug, or snuff, snus, hookah, bidis and kreteks. E-cigarettes such as vaping products and JUULS are included because they are a tobacco-like product and may contain nicotine.

Implementing a tobacco free worksite policy is the perfect way to not only support the health of your employees, but also the best way to create a healthier working environment and to start saving money on health care costs and productivity costs within a business.

Tobacco free worksite policies aim to provide a supportive work environment where all tobacco users have an easier time quitting or cutting back on their tobacco use. These types of policies not only protect smokers, but all tobacco users. It also offers resources to the employees who want to quit using tobacco products and will provide access to recommended tobacco cessation programs and materials at no cost.

Many businesses within Okeechobee County are discovering that addressing tobacco use in the workplace can have a profound effect on profitability. Nearly 70% of tobacco users want to quit, but quitting isn’t easy. Limiting the productivity losses and health care costs associated with tobacco use is as simple as creating an environment that empowers employees to reach their own tobacco free goals. As a business owner, one of the best tools you have to support the efforts of your employees trying to quit tobacco is to make your business tobacco free through a worksite policy.

A tobacco free worksite policy:
• is a written policy that prohibits the use of any tobacco products on your company property;
• is one of the most supportive things you can do to help your employees quit tobacco by removing temptation and social pressures to use tobacco while at work;
• nearly doubles the chance that your employees will achieve their goals to quit tobacco.;
• protects both your employees and visitors from exposure to secondhand smoke;
• protects your bottom line from health care costs and productivity losses;

For more information on developing a tobacco free workplace policy, contact Okeechobee County’s Tobacco Prevention Specialist, Courtney Moyett at CMoyett@quitdoc.com; or visit the website at: www.tfp-Okeechobee.org. To learn more about the Quit Your Way Program, visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com/QuitYourWay.

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