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Smoking bans could help employees butt out: report

Conference Board of Canada says added support measures would significantly aid quitting.


June 18, 2013
by PLANT STAFF

TORONTO — Smokers may have to butt out on plant property altogether if employers heed the advice of a Conference Board of Canada report.

Its Smoking Cessation Programs in Canadian Workplaces report recommends smoking bans on all company property both indoors and outdoors – accompanied by smoking cessation programs – should be a visible part of a comprehensive non-smoking policy in Canadian workplaces.

Currently 19% of organizations responding to a Conference Board survey ban smoking from their property altogether.

“Implementing workplace smoking bans and enforcing these restrictions will help to reduce the likelihood of smoking and shift the organizational culture,” said Karla Thorpe, director, leadership and human resources research.

“Three-quarters of current smokers are employed and many want to quit. The most effective methods to help smokers quit are to couple access to medication with counselling and support.”

Thorpe says such measures would increase success rates by two to three-fold.

The survey is the first time that Canadian employers have provided detailed information on workplace programs and policies in place to help their employees quit smoking.

Here are some highlights from the findings based on the responses of 129 organizations.

• 49% of employers conduct health risk assessments (HRA) to gauge risk factors, such as smoking, among their employees. The Conference Board says an HRA helps determine to what extent employees are receptive to quitting.

• 73% cover prescription smoking cessation medications, but only 40% cover nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, gum, and/or lozenges. Many employers also impose yearly or lifetime maximum coverage limits on these programs. since it often takes more than one attempt to quit smoking, the Conference Board recommends plans be reviewed to ensure coverage is sufficient to allow employees more than one try per year.

• 79% do not evaluate their smoking cessation programs. As a result, employers lack knowledge about whether smokers are participating and whether the programs are effective at helping employees quit.

The report is the second of three briefings in the Conference Board’s series Smoking Cessation and the Workplace. Funding was provided by the Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC) and Pfizer Canada.