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Stopping Smoking in the Workplace Continues to Be a Challenge
Date:7/23/2008

CHICAGO, July 23 /PRNewswire/ -- A new survey of employers by the non-profit Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) finds the new Illinois smoking cessation law, the Smoke-free Illinois Act*, helps companies and their employees overcome some barriers, but removing smoking from the worksite is still a challenge.

MBGH conducted its second annual Smoking Cessation Survey in June of this year to gauge the level of employer involvement in reducing tobacco use among workers. The survey, which obtained more than 50 responses from primarily Midwest, self-insured businesses, was sent by MBGH and other business coalitions to their self-funded members and asked employers about their smoking cessation policies and benefits, use of local resources, measures of success and the impact of state laws prohibiting smoking in the workplace.

Tobacco use is a major health and economic problem for employers and their workers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, employee and dependent tobacco use costs U.S. companies an estimated $167 billion each year in direct medical costs and lost productivity due to morbidity. Smoking costs businesses even more when absenteeism, lost productivity due to smoke breaks and workers compensation claims are included. Lost productivity is 75% higher for smokers versus non-smokers and annual workers compensation costs are up to 12 times higher for smokers than non-smokers.

"We wanted to help employers see what others were doing to address the medical and economic impact of smoking among their employees and dependents," said Larry Boress, president and CEO of MBGH. "While not statistically credible, the survey provides a directional perspective of the challenges faced and approaches used by employers to prohibit smoking at the workplace.

The survey found:

-- Employers are increasingly offering both counseling and prescription drug coverage for those seeking to stop smoking, with 7% of employer
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SOURCE Midwest Business Group on Health
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