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Employers encouraged to help workers quit smoking

Published:   |   Updated: November 18, 2013 at 09:07 AM

SEBRING - In time for the Great American Smoke Out taking place Nov. 21, the Florida Department of Health's Tobacco Free Florida program and Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation are encouraging businesses across Highlands County to help their employees quit tobacco.

"Tobacco users aren't the only ones paying the cost of their addiction with their health and wallet; Highlands County employers are paying the price as well. Employees who smoke can cost businesses more than $6,000 per year when compared to non-smokers," states a news release.

Quit Doc offers employers free assistance in developing tobacco cessation programs, whether it's through the company's health insurance provider or the state's free cessation services. Nearly 70 percent of smokers want to quit, and getting help through their employers can increase their chance of success while simultaneously benefiting the business, the news release adds.

"Employers who provide tobacco cessation resources and a supportive work environment frequently motivate tobacco users to quit," said Dr. Barry Hummel, co-founder of Quit Doc. "Studies have also shown that this type of support during a quit attempt can double a person's chances of success."

Health care costs are one of the largest expenses facing Highlands County businesses, the news release adds. On average, health care costs for employees who smoke are up to 34 percent higher compared to non-smokers. Every employee who smokes can cost employers an extra $2,056 a year in health care expenses, the news release states

"Businesses who want to help their employees quit tobacco should also implement a tobacco free grounds policy at their workplace," said Tobacco Free Florida Bureau Chief Shannon Hughes. "These policies are one of the most effective ways to help employees quit and it creates a healthier environment for all."

Tobacco-free grounds policies nearly double the chance that employees will quit. For those that do not quit, the policy will reduce the number of cigarettes smoked by employees during the week, the news release adds.

"Tobacco free grounds policies are easy to enforce. More than 80 percent of Floridians do not smoke and research has shown compliance rates for tobacco free grounds policies to be more than 96 percent."

The Highlands County Tobacco Free Partnership is working with its Sebring High School Students Working Against Tobacco Club in raising awareness for The Great American Smoke Out.

Faculty and staff at Sebring High will receive cessation information in their mailboxes and also in the teacher's lounge.

"We look forward to this day every year, even if we get just one person to quit that is good enough for us," said Amanda John, tobacco prevention specialist of Highlands County.

For more information, contact John at 441-5101 or


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