By Melissa Potter
Cortland County Health Department
Many businesses are discovering that addressing tobacco use in the workplace can have a profound effect on profitability. About 70 percent of smokers want to quit, but quitting tobacco is tough. Limiting the productivity losses and health care costs associated with tobacco may be as simple as creating an environment that empowers employees to reach their own tobacco free goals. As a business leader, one of the best tools you have to support the efforts of your employees trying to quit tobacco is to make your business tobacco free through a tobacco free grounds policy
With May 31 being World No Tobacco Day, this day highlights the health risks associated with tobacco use and encourages governments, municipalities and employers to adopt effective policies to reduce smoking and other tobacco use. In turn, businesses are discovering the benefits of making their worksites tobacco-free, including improvements in employee health and productivity and significant savings to their bottom line.
Each year in the United States, an estimated 480,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking. The estimated costs of smoking-related medical expenses and loss of productivity exceed $156 billion annually.
Employers incur a considerable share of the overall costs of tobacco use. A comprehensive analysis found that employees who smoke cost an employer on average $5,816 more than a non-smoking employee due to increased absenteeism, loss of productivity related to nicotine addiction, smoke breaks, and extra health care costs.
Tobacco-free workplaces protect employees, visitors and clients from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, support the efforts of smokers who want to quit, and increase the number of smokers who are motivated to quit.
Across the state, community partners have worked with nearly 500 organizations and businesses to go tobacco-free, including many here in Cortland County.
The Tobacco Free Zone program can assist employers in their quest to go tobacco-free by providing free signs, sample policies from other worksites, and cessation resources. For more information, visit our website at www.TFreeZone.net/tobaccofreeworksites.