Tobacco use is the most common substance use disorder in the U.S. Between 8% and 18% of healthcare expenditures, depending on smoking prevalence, are attributable to smoking.
Most smokers want to stop, and each year about 50% of all smokers try to stop for good, but only 6% succeed in any given year. Smoking cessation programs in the workplace can help increase the likelihood that a person who tries to stop will succeed.
Because treatment improves success, and stopping smoking can very cost-effectively prevent disease, tobacco treatment services are ranked as one of the highest priorities among recommended preventive services. In fact, treating tobacco dependence is more cost-effective than cholesterol screening, blood pressure screening, pap smears, and mammography.
The best treatment for tobacco use consists of a combination of quit medication and behavioral therapy or support. However, the challenge in providing this best treatment lies in finding a way to personalize each person’s quit plan while making support and medication convenient and available.
How to identify smoking cessation programs in the workplace that work
There are 4 hallmarks to providing easily accessible individualized treatment. These are getting people the right information, the right medication and the right individualized tools and support. It’s also critical to connect with them at the right time.
To identify the right tobacco cessation provider for your population that applies these 4 hallmarks, start by asking these questions:
Q1. How does the program ensure participants receive the right information during the intervention?
To ensure participants receive the right information to help them quit, be sure to ask if the program employs experienced tobacco treatment specialists as coaches.
Experienced tobacco treatment specialists are certified professionals who have been intensively trained in the science behind tobacco addiction, withdrawal, chronic conditions, cognitive-behavioral strategies, and pharmacotherapy. They are experts at keying in on each smoker’s unique characteristics and behavioral patterns and using that information to develop personalized treatment plans.
Also, make sure to ask the program provider for details about the qualifications and training curriculum for the coaching staff to stay current with the latest information on tobacco use treatment.
Q2. How does the program help tobacco users select and receive the right medication?
Medications, such as the patch, gum or lozenge, reduce the intensity of craving and withdrawal symptoms. Using medication can double or triple a smoker’s chances of quitting successfully.
Yet most smokers don’t understand the benefits of medications or know how to choose one and use it correctly. Ask your program partner how tobacco treatment specialists are trained to guide smokers through the maze of medication options and usage complexities.
Q3. How are the tools and support personalized to each participant?
Every participant who enrolls in a smoking cessation program comes from a different place. Some are fired up for their first try; others are feeling demoralized after numerous failed attempts or a recent relapse.
Effective smoking cessation programs in the workplace will have the capacity to support all smokers, no matter their fears, attitudes or experiences, and will make support within easy reach of participants at all times.
Look for a program that offers different tools to tailor the quitting experience to individual needs and preferences. Many tobacco users today prefer a digital approach over talking on the phone to receive support. See if the program offers alternative ways to connect with a coach.
Does the program provide access to an active online social community for support? Information, validation, and real-time encouragement from peers is a critical part of a successful quit plan for many smokers. And does the program offer text messaging, emails and other tailored interactive tools to give tobacco users access to help whenever they need? It should.
Q4. How does the program ensure it connects with people at the right time?
On average, smokers make 6 or more attempts to quit before they finally succeed.
Fact is, quitting smoking, like any worthwhile endeavor, takes practice. From each failed attempt, smokers gain insight and skills that will boost their odds of success the next time around. They must know from the get-go that they have unlimited access to all aspects of the program for as long as it takes: coaching, planning tools, social support, and content.
By providing effective treatment at the right time to encourage quit attempts, a program provides participants with the support needed to quit smoking for good.
Ekpu VU, Brown AK. The Economic Impact of Smoking and of Reducing Smoking Prevalence: Review of Evidence. Tob Use Insights. 2015 Jul 14;8:1-35.
Agaku IT, King BA, Dube SR; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Current cigarette smoking among adults – United States, 2005-2012. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014 Jan 17;63(2):29-34.
Maciosek MV, Coffield AB, Edwards NM. Priorities among effective clinical preventive services: results of a systematic review and analysis. Am J. Prev Med 2006; 31(1) 52-61.
Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Rosner BA, Colditz GA. Smoking and smoking cessation in relation to mortality in women. JAMA. 2008; 299(17): 2037-47.
Chaiton M, Diemert L, Cohen JE, Bondy SJ, et al. Estimating the number of quit attempts it takes to quit smoking successfully in a longitudinal cohort of smokers. BMJ Open. 2016 Jun 9;6(6):e011045