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Your Boss Doesn’t Support a Smoke-Free Policy…Now What?

Your Boss Doesn’t Support a Smoke-Free Policy…Now What?

Not every business leader embraces a smoke-free policy or tobacco-free workplace. Surprised? Don’t be.

Today 20% of indoor workers in the U.S. are not yet covered by a 100% smoke-free policy. And if you work in certain industries, such as construction, agriculture, and transportation, your company is even less likely to have a workplace no-smoking policy.

The reasons why can vary. Maybe the leadership team smokes. Or the boss could be afraid of potential backlash from employees who use tobacco.

But challenges related to leadership or industry norms are not insurmountable. See our tips on how to make a compelling business case for change.

5 ways to tackle internal barriers to a smoke-free policy

When leadership isn’t on-board to create a tobacco-free workplace, here are 5 ways to overcome internal barriers.

  1. Refer to regulations.

If your workplace is out of compliance with local and state laws, this can be a powerful motivator for change. To find the laws related to workplace smoking and e-cigarette use in your city or state, visit the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation for easy-to-use lists and maps.

  1. Demonstrate the organizational costs of smoking.

Sharing healthcare, absenteeism, and lost productivity costs associated with tobacco are a good place to start. (To calculate the costs of tobacco use specific to your organization, use our Cost of Smoking Calculator)

But other expenses related to tobacco use can affect an organization’s bottom line, too. For example, surveys show that eliminating smoking in a building can, on average, reduce cleaning costs by 10%. Plus, fire insurance is commonly reduced by 25-30% for smoke-free businesses.

  1. Identify the root cause of concerns.

When there is resistance to establishing a smoke-free policy, dig deep and ask questions to uncover the real issues.

Barriers may exist because people don’t understand what “smoke-free” means. They may be concerned that valued employees and/or customers won’t be able to smoke at the worksite—and this may affect company loyalty and morale. There may also be concerns and uncertainty about defining the boundaries for tobacco use—for example, whether tobacco can be used on a business trip. You will likely find a way forward if you understand these concerns and can remove the uncertainty by sharing best practices for a workplace smoke-free policy in an industry like yours.

  1. Illustrate the impact on employee engagement.

With employees spending most of their hours at work each day, a healthy workplace culture is paramount. More than an onsite gym, healthy snacks in the kitchen or standing desks, a smoke-free workplace is a must-have for many employees.

If you encounter barriers to creating a policy, remind objectors that a smoke-free work environment is the foundation of a healthy workplace that attracts talent. If you want to recruit, hire, and retain employees, you need clean indoor air.

  1. Launch a tobacco-free policy with a tobacco cessation program.

Policy and smoking cessation go hand in hand for helping people overcome their tobacco addiction. The CEO likely doesn’t want to back employees into a corner by telling them they can’t use tobacco at work and at the same time not helping them quit. Coming to the management team with a ready-made solution (like the EX Program) is a great way to overcome these concerns. You get to make the boss look good, rather than the bad guy.

Whether you’re facing a challenge in implementing a policy or want insight about the benefits of quitting, consider working with an outside partner that can share this expertise.

Our team of experts at the EX Program can share best practices on how to put together a tobacco-free policy for your company and how to communicate a new policy to employees. We can also help you provide a tailored solution that helps employees—and families—quit tobacco. For good.

Contact us today to start a conversation about how we can help you create a tobacco-free workplace.


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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