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Adding Up the Cost of Smoking - A Corporate Case Study

October 15, 2019

How many smokers do you think you have in your workforce? Whether you have one, a handful or the majority, you may not realize what this is costing your company.

To start from a national perspective, despite the progress that has been made in reducing tobacco use, smoking is still the leading cause of premature death in Canada and remains a serious health problem. Recent studies have estimated that 21% of all deaths over the past decade are due to smoking, and most lung cancer patients are current or former smokers.  In addition to the effects on mortality, the costs of treating the numerous diseases and conditions caused by smoking are quite substantial. Health care spending related to smoking is estimated to account for between 6% to 15% of total annual healthcare costs in Canada.

Now from an employer’s perspective, you are concerned about the health and well being of your employees, but also the cost to your company. Employees who smoke frequently during the working day spend a lot of time away from their work station outside taking smoking breaks.  The time spent away from their work to take a smoking break can add up over the course of the day. If an employee takes a 15-minute smoking break four times a day that time equates to over a year spent away from their desk over their working life.

For employers, it is difficult to regulate the amount of smoking breaks employees take because the underlying addiction is unique to each individual. It is also important to acknowledge that for non-smokers, it can be extremely frustrating when colleagues who smoke leave regularly to take breaks while they do not receive those breaks in their work day.

A recent study, combined with the work of other authors and the Conference Board of Canada, found the average excess cost of a smoking employee (over a non-smoking employee) from a private employer’s to be nearly $6,000 (USD) per person per year extra, versus non-smokers.  That adds up quickly.

Cue the Med-I-Well Method. Founder and Pharmacist Lucio Fabris, in collaboration with the wellness team, is trained in smoking cessation methods and has been helping companies offer this service to their employees for over two decades.  Based on the four core elements of Med-I-Well: educate, motivate,inspire and enhance, we can help you improve the health and well-being of your employees, while decreasing the effect it is having on your bottom line.

Our Quit Smoking Program is based on evidence-based behaviour change approaches in a non-judgemental and personalized environment to help individuals become smoke free for life and to take control of their health and overall well-being in a sustainable way. We have offered this service in many different formats based on the company and individual’s needs –including, one-on-one and group-based classes. Classes can be offered in the MWS office for privacy, or offered on your property for efficiency of scheduling.  Offering our Quit Smoking program to your workforce clearly demonstrates your commitment to their health and well-being, and helping smokers quit is just smart business.

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