Yes, You Still Have Smokers in Your Workplace

Yes, You Still Have Smokers in Your Workplace

Now that smoking is no longer the employee health issue it once was, companies can turn their attention to other wellness program strategies, right?

Unfortunately not.

Because smoking in the workplace today isn’t always obvious, that’s led some employers to believe this type of addiction isn’t a big issue anymore. Out of sight, out of mind, out of HR planning.

That misperception can be very costly on multiple levels—from direct productivity losses to higher healthcare expenditures. Even worse, it means those who do smoke won’t get the help they need.

Who Still Smokes?

While it’s true there have been some decreases in smoking rates in certain geographic areas, the fight is far from over. And with the epidemic rise of e-cigarette use among youth, even those areas could potentially slide back toward higher prevalence.

One study found that in the U.S., as many 1 in 4 adults were current cigarette smokers (West Virginia); 1 in 10 adults currently used smokeless tobacco products (Wyoming); and 1 in 15 adults currently used e-cigarettes (Oklahoma).

Here’s a deeper look at who’s still smoking in the workforce.

Smoking in the workplace - Industries with higher smoking rates graphic

Smoking in the workplace - indoor vs outdoor rates graphic

Smoking in the workplace - smoking rates by state map

Smoking in the workplace - smoking rates by education graphic

Syamlal, Girija et al. “Workplace Smoke-Free Policies and Cessation Programs Among U.S. Working Adults,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Feb. 14, 2019.
“State-specific Patterns of Cigarette Smoking, Smokeless Tobacco Use, and E-cigarette Use Among Adults – United States, 2016,” Feb. 7, 2019, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Truth about Smoking in the Workplace

Look around your workplace. Can you tell which employees use tobacco products and which don’t? While some take smoke breaks, others might use e-cigarettes that don’t require ducking outside to light up if your indoor smoking policy doesn’t include vaping. Even those who do smoke cigarettes could go off-site to light up.

Simply put, you likely don’t know the extent of the issue at your company. But one thing is certain: You can make a significant difference when it comes to changing the numbers.

Building Awareness, Reducing Prevalence

According to the Centers for Disease Control, tobacco use is still the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States–more than being sedentary, more than obesity, more than poor nutrition.

Becoming aware of the continuing use of tobacco is the first big step toward change. The next is to focus on reducing that usage.

For that, you need an evidence-based cessation program that works for every tobacco user in your organization and helps them quit in the way they prefer. For example, more of today’s tobacco users would rather use text, email, and online chat than traditional phone coaching.

A meaningful tobacco cessation program is one that people actually use. When they can get support and resources anytime through digital interventions, it increases their likelihood of quitting for good.

Even if you don’t know all of the smokers or other tobacco users in your organization, you can help every one of them. Visit our program page to learn more about an innovative, effective quitting experience for tobacco users of all types—from smokers to e-cigarette users to chewing tobacco users.

Ready to see a demo? Contact us to see a demo today.

Megan Jacobs, MPH
Megan Jacobs, MPH

Managing Director of Product, Innovations

Megan Jacobs is responsible for the design, delivery, and evaluation of the EX Program. Most recently, Jacobs led the EX Program team responsible for the first evidence-based text messaging program to help e-cigarette users of all ages quit. She formed her expertise in mHealth interventions and public health campaigns with her work at the University of Michigan Health Service, DC Department of Health, and the National Vaccine Program Office. Her public health work over the past 15 years has applied technology to behavior change ranging from adolescent sexual health to vaccinations. Jacobs received her Master of Public Health from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University and is also a graduate of the University of Michigan.

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