Blog

Only Promote Smoking Cessation at Work During Open Enrollment, Right?

Only Promote Smoking Cessation at Work During Open Enrollment, Right?

Among the unwritten rules of addressing tobacco in the workplace is “only promote tobacco cessation during open enrollment.”

Many employers might think this is their lone opportunity, once a year, to talk about smoking cessation at work options. But if you truly want to help employees, it’s time to cross out that rule.

Underlying this open-enrollment-only approach are 3 key beliefs that are largely inaccurate:

  • That open enrollment is the only time your employees pay attention to their benefits mix and resources
  • That it’s a hassle or waste of energy to run promotions at other times of the year since employees who use tobacco won’t pay attention
  • That most people quit around New Year’s anyway so providing tobacco cessation support any other time of the year is a waste

While it’s true that there’s a surge at the beginning of the year when it comes to quit attempts, especially in January, that’s far from the only month that there’s interest.

After all, consider that nearly 70% of adult smokers in the U.S., and 62% of e-cigarette users, have noted that they want to quit.

Not all of them are waiting for the “right time.”

Unpredictable reasons to enroll in smoking cessation at work

One of the most significant reasons that tobacco cessation needs to be offered year-round is the reasons for quitting are unpredictable. Here are just a few reasons that tobacco users in our active online community cite for wanting to quit:

Freedom from addiction. They acknowledge that it’s sabotaging their quality of life at every level, and they want to be free. “I’m damn ready to get this stuff out of my life for good,” writes one EX member.

Physical health concerns. “Nicotine addiction has left me feeling weak in my own body. And that’s not how I want to feel in my early twenties,” says an EX member. For some members, a warning from a doctor about how smoking is exacerbating their pain or a chronic condition can be enough to trigger a desire to quit. For others, they may simply want to feel strong and healthy and quitting tobacco is a huge step toward that.

Missing out on important moments. That huge touchdown their kid spent all season hoping to make? They were outside smoking, away from everyone, and missed it. When these moments stack up, it’s a lot of life missed. For some tobacco users, they are motivated to try to quit so they won’t be the “missing one” anymore.

Missing out on important moments. That huge touchdown their kid spent all season hoping to make? They were outside smoking, away from everyone, and missed it. When these moments stack up, it’s a lot of life missed. For some tobacco users, they are motivated to try to quit so they won’t be the “missing one” anymore.

All of these layer on top of each other and there comes a point when they want to pivot toward cessation. Open enrollment was months ago though. Will they remember that your company offers evidence-based support to help them quit?

See this short video for ideas on how to give visibility to smoking cessation at work.

 

To see the entire 30-minute webinar, visit 4 Rules to Break to Impact Addiction in the Workplace.

How to give visibility to smoking cessation at work

Promoting tobacco cessation year-round means making a commitment toward ongoing communication. It might feel like you’re repeating the message over and over—and you are—but that’s because you don’t know when each employee who uses tobacco is ready to pay attention.

Using multiple forms of promotion can help spark their interest, and that includes:

  • Signage around smoke areas
  • Mirror clings
  • Mints/toothpicks branded with your quit program for health fair giveaways
  • Lunch and learns
  • T-shirts with the program name that people can wear at work to generate buzz
  • Displays for breakrooms

Helping employees quit tobacco isn’t easy—if it was, open enrollment would probably be enough. But it’s worth it. Being able to offer support when employees need it most is what makes a good employer into a great one.


Lauren Higgins
Lauren Higgins

Managing Director, Partnerships and Strategic Accounts

Lauren Higgins oversees the launch and ongoing support of enterprise clients. She brings a wealth of experience ensuring client success with wellness initiatives. Prior to the EX Program, she served as director of client success for MeYou Health, a workplace wellness platform designed for small businesses. She also held a variety of client-facing roles during her 5+ years at Virgin Pulse, a market-leading platform that builds employee health and wellbeing into corporate cultures.

Human Resources Today