Smoking Cessation: An Opportunity For Commercial Improvement


Impact Of Smoking On The Business
When we consider the impact of smoking on a business we need to consider three key areas of profitability, health of all employees and other people who visit our premises and company image.

Profitability is a major concern for all organisations that employ smokers:

34 million working days are lost to British industry each year due to smoking related sick leave. After all, there are over 50 diseases associated with smoking, so the habit provides a lot of opportunities for sick leave. The cost to the employer is not just on sick pay but also lost productivity and output vape shops near me.
Professor Konrad Jamrozik of Imperial College London has estimated that exposure to second hand smoke in the workplace causes around 617 premature deaths in the UK each year.
A Canadian study (Health Canada, Smoking and the bottom line, Canada, 1997) showed that the average annual reduction in productivity per employee who smokes is £1,085, increased absenteeism costs £115, additional insurance £37, and smoking areas cost £42 (figures that have significantly inflated over the last 10 years).
The cost of supporting a smoking environment is significant and many companies fail to realise how this impacts the bottom line:
Smoking breaks cause interruptions to work flow and can account for one lost day per week.
Smokers introduce additional costs for cleaning and redecorating.
Cost of space for smoking rooms if used.
Special ventilation is required if smoking rooms are used.
Increased premiums for health and fire insurance with up to 14% of medical costs related to smoking.
Increased litigation risks.
Proposals are in place to prohibit smoking in most workplaces in England during 2007. However, Scotland and Ireland have already banned smoking in all indoor workplaces.
Impact Of Smoking On Employees

A staggering 13 million adults still smoke in the UK and whilst the overall trends show the number of smokers are declining, there is a large incidence of smoking amongst younger people. Unfortunately 1 in 2 of these smokers will die of smoking related illnesses.

Staff morale amongst non-smokers is an issue as they consider they receive fewer breaks and have to cover for the time lost by smokers. This often causes resentment towards smoker colleagues. 86% of all employees and interestingly 73% of smokers believe that smoking should be restricted at work (Lader D. and Meltzer H. Smoking related behavior and attitudes. Office for National Statistics 2001).

Smoking affects employees on several levels as summarised below, any one of which can impact their performance at work.

Health deteriorates

Heart attack risk increases threefold.
Risk of heart disease increases by 70%.
Cause 90% of lung cancers.
Responsible for a proliferation of other cancers.
Risk of type 2 diabetes increases by 2 to 3 times.
Cause 1 in 3 deaths by 2020.
Cause 13 deaths / hour in the UK.
Reduces sexual performance
Reduced stamina.
Risk of impotence in men increased by 50% (30 – 50 years of age).
Fertility reduced to 72% in women (compared to non smokers).
Pregnant women pass effects to unborn children.
Changes appearance
Premature wrinkles around eyes and mouth.
Skin becomes dry due to reduced blood circulation.
Fingers become tobacco stained.
Teeth become stained brown and increased risk of gum disease.
Smell of tobacco on clothes, car, house and office.
Suppresses appetites
Taste buds suppressed leading to unbalanced diets.
Damages children
Children are three times more likely to smoke if their parents smoke.
Impairs decision making
Reliance on the temporary calming effects of smoking to avoid issues and reduce stress.
Corporate Benefits Of No Smoking
Any organisation that introduces a support programme for smokers as well as initiating a no smoking policy, is likely to experience significant gains in productivity and workplace attendance. These gains far outweigh the costs of any smoking cessation programme and include:

Reduced employee sick days due to heart disease, lung cancer, aggravation of asthma, decreased coughing, and reduction of respiratory complaints.
The supportive attitude to employee welfare stimulates reciprocal positive attitudes from employees and this helps smoker morale.
71% of smokers want to quit (Lader D. and Meltzer H. Smoking related behavior and attitudes. Office for National Statistics 2001) and this goal is easier for them if their employer creates a smoke free environment and particularly if the employer introduces a smoke cessation programme.
Recognition amongst non-smokers that they will also benefit from elimination of passive smoking and seeing increased productivity from the new non-smoking colleagues improves the moral of non-smokers.
Creates the corporate image of a caring organisation and this opens doors with environmentally concerned customers.
Improved company image (both internally and externally) and possible incremental business from organisations that are environmentally aware.
Reduced risk of future legislation and we say future as the law concerning smoking in companies is not exactly crystal clear but that will change.
Employee Benefits Of Stopping Smoking
The most common reasons given for the lifestyle change to stop smoking are:-

Improved health and wellbeing.
Improved prospects of a long life.
Improved physical appearance.
Improved job prospects.
Improved chances of a new relationship or marriage.
Improved chances of becoming pregnant.
Improved sex drive and performance.
Improved job / career prospects.
Compliance with no smoking regulations.
Setting a good example to children.
Being more socially responsible.
Introducing A Smoking Cessation Policy
Smoking policies (according to ASH) are not about whether or not people smoke, but about when and where they smoke and whether their smoke affects others. Smoking in the workplace needs to be tackled like any other management challenge. Any smoking policy requires clear guidelines for all parties involved and we suggest a 5-stage process to establish this:

Employee Feedback – Pre Stage

Carrying out an internal survey amongst employees to clearly establish attitudes and opinions of both smokers and non-smokers, together with opinions (if applicable) of unions, customers and suppliers. This survey provides a benchmark to assess the scale of the opportunities to be gained from the introduction of any smoking policy and treatment programme and also provides a yardstick against which to measure the future gains. A second analysis should establish the hard employee facts such as sick days for both smokers and non smokers.

Establish Dialogue With Employees

The survey is the starting point and the findings from this and the proposed course of action should be discussed with employees in order to ensure recommendations meet the needs of both the company and the employees. It is normal to set up a working party with representatives of both smoker and non-smoker employees. In establishing the policy framework it has to be remembered that we need to comply with Section 49 of the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978, which specifies that 12 weeks notice is required of changes to working conditions.

It is also worth noting that restrictions on smoking do not relate to a factor inherent to a person, such as age, gender, colour or social class, but to a voluntary activity. In this respect it is wrong to claim that they are discriminatory.

Finalise The Policy

Any smoking policy is likely to go through a few iterations before it is acceptable to all parties. This time is well spent if later problems are to be avoided. The policy will be designed to comply with Section 2(2)(e) of the Health and Safety at Work ETC Act 1974 and will detail:

General principals of the policy.
Common area where smoking is not permitted.
Work areas where smoking is not permitted.
Any use of designated smoking rooms.
Smoking in company vehicles.
Unions / Health & Safety representatives.
Staff information.
Restrictions applied to visitors and temporary staff.
Adequate signage.
Recruitment policies.
Treatment programme to help smokers end smoking.
Enforcement of smoking policy.
Policy amendments.
Initiate The Policy And Communicate
Any policy should ideally go through two stages. Firstly a restriction on smoking, together with the introduction of a smoker programme to help them stop smoking and followed by a company wide smoking ban.

Companies should use their normal methods of communication to ensure the policy is clearly visible to all employees and visitors.

Employee Feedback – Post Stage

It is beneficial to repeat the employee smoker survey 6 to 9 months after any change in policy and the commencement of company stop smoking treatments. This will enable organisations to measure the return on their investment, establish reduction in sick days and measure improvements in employee productivity and attitudes. It is also beneficial PR to use the findings to communicate the environmentally friendly policy and caring attitude towards employees and visitors.

Support and Treatment

The introduction of any new smoking policy, should be accompanied by advice and support to enable smokers to quit, should they choose to do so. Simply ordering employees to stop smoking is short sighted, as their habit is driven by their addiction to nicotine, one of the most addictive substances known and more addictive than drugs such as cocaine.

There are many different methods and products on the market to help smokers to end their habit. The most popular are nicotine replacement therapies or using smokers helpline and counselling. However, the quickest and most beneficial solution appears to be the treatments that cancel out the electromagnetic charge of nicotine in the body. These treatments have success rates in excess of 85%, generally eliminate nicotine addiction within 24 hours and have virtually no withdrawal problems. This provides for a rapid ROI.

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