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New Survey Shows Majority of Employers Rank Smoking as One of Their Greatest Priority Health Issues, But Only 2 Percent Provide Comprehensive Smoking Cessation Benefits for Employees
Date:10/25/2007

smoking cessation benefits can be cost-effective for their companies.(1)According to the survey, the potential to reduce health care costs motivates employers to provide employees with smoking cessation benefits (82 percent) more than other business outcomes, including increased job productivity (57 percent), reduced absenteeism (46 percent) and reduced life insurance costs (46 percent).(1)

In regard to the costs of smoking, employers believed long-term medical costs were the most harmful to their business (66 percent).(1) Studies have shown, however, that smoking also incurs significant short-term medical and lost productivity costs through illnesses and smoke breaks, higher fire insurance rates and facility maintenance expenses.(2)

When asked to estimate an adult smoker's average excess medical costs to the employer, more than half responded that they don't know or estimated the cost at less than $1,000.(1)A 1999 study showed the economic burden of smoking to be approximately $1,623 in excess medical expenses per smoking employee,

plus an additional $1,760 in health-related productivity losses per smoking employee.(3)

Benefits Largely Not In Line with CDC Recommendations

Ninety-six percent of employers believe that providing all of the components of a smoking cessation benefit as outlined by the CDC, in partnership with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), would be beneficial, yet only two percent of employers offer their employees the comprehensive benefit.(1) The CDC recommends companies:

-- Cover at least four counseling sessions of at least 30 minutes each,

including telephone and individual counseling sessions

-- Cover both prescription medication and over-the-counter nicotine

replacement treatments

-- Provide counseling and medication coverage for at least two smoking

cessation attempts per year

-- Eliminate or minimize co-pays or deductibles for counseling and
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SOURCE National Business Group on Health
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