The third Thursday in November is designated as The Great American Smokeout by the American Cancer Society. The event focuses on encouraging individuals to utilize this day as the first step in a smoke-free life. It’s reported that around 34 million Americans smoke, leading to the single largest preventable cause of death and illness worldwide, with an estimated 480,000 deaths/year.
In addition, smoking costs related to healthcare can run more than $170 billion per year. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) puts a $3,931/employee price for each employee who smokes, with $1,760 in lost productivity and $1,623 in excess medical expenditures. Secondhand smoke adds more costs. Some reports note employer-related costs of more than $5,500 for each employee who smokes.
The American Nonsmokers Rights Foundation notes that if all workplaces were to implement 100% smokefree policies, the reduction in heart attack rates due to exposure to secondhand smoke would save the United States $49 million in direct medical savings the first year alone.
As employers, are you promoting healthy lifestyles for your staff? Do you provide support and resources to help? The American Cancer Society has a variety of materials available on their website: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/risk-prevention/tobacco/great-american-smokeout/resources.html
Employer provided insurances and other benefits may offer additional resources to staff to help. Check with your vendors and, if available, remind staff of this availability. Employers can also remind employees of the direct cost of cigarettes: if the average cost is $8/pack, a smoker likely pays between $400/year (for a pack a week) to over $2,900 (a pack a day). These costs don’t consider medical and lost work costs.
Let’s do what we can to provide resources to staff who want to live a healthier lifestyle and potentially save some money. The Great American Smokeout is another reminder of that!