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Top 5 Myths Why Employees Don’t Use Your Cessation Program

Top 5 Myths Why Employees Don’t Use Your Cessation Program

There are many myths about why employees don’t use a tobacco cessation program. But it’s hard for employers to bust those myths if they don’t know what they are. Here are 5 top myths that we hear, as well as the information you need to bust them.

Myth 1: Everyone knows we offer a tobacco cessation program.

You know about the tobacco cessation program your organization provides, but often employees only hear about it during open enrollment. That means the program may be top of mind for a month or two each year, but for the other 10 months, it’s off the radar.

Bust the myth: To ensure all employees are aware of your program, promote it year-round, especially during peak times when quit attempts are highest, such as around New Year’s.

And, promote the program using multi-touch promotions. You can’t rely on one message or one channel to do the trick. Repeating the message in different ways—posters, emails, web communications—will make it stick.

For ideas on how and when to promote your quit-tobacco program, download our 2020 Quit-smoking Calendar.

Myth 2: Offering a quit-tobacco program through our health plan makes it easy.

If a smoker has to go to a healthcare provider to get access to quit medication or to find support to stop, it’s a barrier and discourages them from taking action.

Bust the myth: Provide easy access to quit support for employees. Rather than requiring a doctor’s visit, for example, enable employees to get quit medication shipped to their home.

Plus, offer a digital program so participants aren’t required to talk on the phone, attend a workshop, or meet with in person to receive timely help. Give them the tools so they can start and continue their journey in a way that works for them.

Myth 3: People think if they participate, they must quit tobacco to avoid a tobacco surcharge.

Tobacco users may believe that they must quit tobacco entirely to avoid a surcharge on their healthcare policy. Employers can impose surcharges on tobacco users; however, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), they must also offer a way for employees to avoid additional fees—for example, by enrolling in a quit-smoking program.

Bust the myth: The goal of a tobacco surcharge is to get people over the hurdle of quitting “someday,” and instead act to join the program and start their quit journey. It typically takes multiple quit attempts for a smoker to quit for good.

With this in mind, it’s crucial for employers to make it as easy as possible for people to make a quit attempt, and to give them as many reasons as possible to do so.

Of course, we want tobacco users to quit as our end goal. But make sure they know that their incentive is tied to trying to quit, not to whether they are ultimately successful or not.

Myth 4: Quitting tobacco is the same for smoking, e-cigarettes, and chew.

You may think that tobacco is tobacco, regardless of the form in which it’s used. But tobacco users looking for support to quit know otherwise.

Bust the myth: For a variety of reasons, people need information tailored to the type of tobacco they use to help them quit. People start using different products for different reasons; there are various “triggers” for different tobacco products; each form has its own level of nicotine; the vocabulary is unique to each product; and, different beliefs exist about the harms each product causes.

Speaking to a user’s individual experience is paramount. Make sure you offer quitting resources that address each type of tobacco in ways that resonate with users, including those who vape.

Myth 5: Tobacco users really don’t want to quit.

It’s not that people don’t want to stop. It’s that they need access to evidence-based tools to help them navigate the process.

Bust the myth: Nearly 70% of smokers want to quit. But among those who do try to quit, few of them use evidence-based help. Instead, they rely on their willpower. The EX Program’s quit rate is 5 times higher than when smokers try to quit on their own.

Bust more myths about cessation programs

If you think little has changed in the tobacco cessation landscape during the past few years, think again.

Now is the time to discover what’s available, what works, and what questions to ask to find a program that best fits your company’s needs. Download our Buyer’s Guide for Workplace Smoking Cessation Programs to learn more.


Jessie Saul, Ph.D.
Jessie Saul, Ph.D.

Client Success Director

Dr. Jessie Saul brings 16 years of experience in program evaluation and strategic planning with tobacco cessation. She applies this deep understanding to help clients improve program performance and reduce tobacco use among populations. She earned her Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Cornell University.

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