Communicate with Employees and Management About The Tobacco-Free Policy
Once you have composed your plan, you will need to inform your employees about the upcoming changes. Remember to consider the need to involve – or at least communicate with – management and labor unions (if present). It is important that all employees understand the policy changes and the implications of these changes.
Mid-level managers or supervisors need to understand their responsibilities for implementing and enforcing the policies. You may want to hold meetings to familiarize them with their roles.
These meetings can be useful in anticipating and preparing for potential problems, such as the abuse of break time or tension between smokers and nonsmokers.
The following are questions and suggested talking points about the policy:
Will there be a reduction in healthcare costs at the end of year one?
It will be difficult to promise savings in healthcare costs within one year. Note: An accurate assessment of who is using tobacco before the new policy takes effect and a comparison of who is smoking among employees at the end of year can be used to calculate the potential cost benefit of the smoke-free/tobacco-free policy.
Does passive smoking have adverse health effects on nonsmokers?
Secondhand smoke is a proven health hazard. It has been classified as a Group A (known human) carcinogen, as have asbestos and benzene. Nonsmokers subjected to secondhand smoking are exposed to nicotine, carbon monoxide and cancer-causing agents. More people die from secondhand smoking than all other regulated occupational substances combined.
Seek the support of your corporate medical director or a community health professional.
Should employees be allowed to take time away from their job to participate in smoking cessation activities?
Plan cessation programs at times that are not part of the workday but are convenient for employees (e.g., before work, during lunch or after work).
Point out that over the long term, time off to attend smoking cessation programs will add up to less time than employees take to smoke.
Will a tobacco-free policy result in the loss of smoking employees?
Very few employees leave companies because of implementation of smoke-free policies: 3.5 percent of an extensive small business sample and two percent of another sample said employees left due to a smoke-free policy.
Will a tobacco-free policy be difficult to enforce?
Enforcement procedures are almost never needed because most policies are self-enforcing and compliance is very high. Compliance is high because both management and employees usually support the smoke-free tobacco-free policy.
Will tobacco-free policies alienate clients?
In most cases, clearly posted signs are enough to alert clients to your smoke-free/tobacco-free policy.
Some companies hand out a small card explaining the policy.
Won’t tobacco-free policies cost too implement?
Experience and limited survey data have demonstrated that developing and implementing a tobacco-free policy does not need to be expensive or time-consuming. Costs and time can be saved with well-thought-out implementation.
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