Federal Occupational Health (FOH) recognizes the enormous challenge of overcoming tobacco dependence, and the importance of providing support to the nearly 50 million Americans who smoke or use tobacco products. FOH offers an affordable, effective, and comprehensive Tobacco Cessation Program, which can be customized to meet your agency's specific needs.
With over 480,000 tobacco-related deaths, each year, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disability in the United States. The costs to employers for tobacco-related medical treatment, early death and disability, lost work time, and decreased productivity are staggering.
The greatest incentive for establishing a program is that tobacco cessation programs save lives. In addition to this, your agency gains the many organizational benefits that come from increased employee health, such as reduced absenteeism and increased productivity
Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) helps reduce the symptoms of withdrawal, thereby helping smokers overcome nicotine dependence and sustain successful behavior change. In a survey, FOH found hundreds of smokers who reported smoking anywhere from 20 to 40 years without ever making an attempt to quit said they signed up for agency sponsored programs because of the offer of four weeks of free patches or gum.
FOH's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can play an important role in helping employees who are making behavioral changes such as quitting tobacco use. By taking advantage of the FOH EAP services, your agency's employees receive the counseling support they need to complement their efforts to quit using tobacco.
Check the OPM Website and you will discover that agencies are not only allowed to, but are encouraged to sponsor such programs.
Offering these name brand products at no cost to the employee has proven to be a powerful incentive to participate. Keep in mind that a program won't be effective if nobody signs up. This program is especially attractive to lower income level employees who have avoided using these products in the past because of the initial high cost of the products. Additionally, current CDC guidelines on smoking cessation recommend that all quitters be offered smoking cessation medication to minimize nicotine withdrawal symptoms.
We instruct participants that they will have to save the money they were spending on cigarettes during the first 4 weeks of their quit effort and use it to purchase the remaining patches and gum once the agency provided supply is exhausted. Their willingness to do this indicates a commitment to quitting and keeps the cost of the program down for agencies. This allows more participants to sign up for less money. A totally free program is not likely to result in greater quit rates.
Most smokers who quit for good didn't reach this goal on their first try. More often it takes several attempts. Our counselors help participants learn from past mistakes. Another common finding is that the smoker can't quit because they have some other behavior problem that sabotages their efforts to stop. Commonly these are alcohol or other substance abuse issues, or untreated mental health problems. Suggested referrals for EAP assistance are a common occurrence during smoking cessation interviews.
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"I was a smoker for 30 years and finally quit using the FOH Tobacco Cessation Program. I found the counseling motivational. I set a firm time table as the program suggested and committed to quitting. I have worked myself into shape and I feel great."
Senior Security Specialist
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)