Smokers tend to take extra breaks during the work day in order to fulfill nicotine cravings. This doesn’t usually make employers happy and they would prefer employees focus on work tasks, instead. Luckily, many companies have programs to help workers quit smoking. Take advantage of smoking cessation programs in the workplace and other wellness incentives to quit smoking.
What happens when you stop smoking cigarettes?
There are a large number of benefits of quitting smoking and many of them also help workers, whether in an office, classroom, or factory.
Save tons of money
A single pack of cigarettes costs between $5 and $12. Those who smoke a pack a day spend upwards of $50 a week. That’s about $250 a month and that could be a car payment. Quit smoking cigarettes to put extra money in a savings account toward large purchases or a reward vacation to stay motivated.
Gain more recognition at work
Nonsmoking employees don’t need as many breaks and can get more work done. It’s possible that employers will notice the extra work when a smoker quits and perhaps provide recognition in the form of a reward.
When someone quits smoking, their health often improves and can do so fairly quickly. Some health benefits may include:
- Clear lungs
- Regain a sense of smell and taste
- Less risk for heart attack
- Lower risk for cancer
- Less chance of heart disease
- Increased energy
- Easier to breathe
This better health puts less strain on employee insurance and helps employees save money on out-of-pocket medical costs.
FDA-approved ways to quit smoking
There are several FDA-approved cessation medications and therapies on the market that make quitting smoking easier. Some of them are prescriptions, while others are over-the-counter options. Make sure to check with HR to see if these medications are covered under your smoking cessation program.
Nicotine replacement options
Nicotine replacement therapy provides the addiction-causing nicotine but without the dangers to health from tobacco. Slowly weaning the body from nicotine helps prevent withdrawals that may cause headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and increased appetite.
The therapies come in a few types and most are available as OTC pharmaceuticals and supplements. Patches go on the skin like BAND-AIDs® and release nicotine through the skin. Gum, nasal sprays, inhalers, and lozenges contain nicotine that absorbs into the bloodstream when it comes in contact with the cheeks or roof of the mouth. Again, these could be available to you at no cost or a reduced cost through your work’s smoking cessation program, so be sure to talk to HR to reap your full benefit.
Non-nicotine cessation medications
CHANTIX® and Zyban are two FDA-approved prescription pills that help smokers quit. They both contain ingredients that mimic the effect of nicotine on the brain. Just like with nicotine replacement therapy, users take lower doses over time to wean the body from the addictive nature of nicotine. Your doctor and your company’s covered smoking cessation benefits will help you decide which option is best for you.
How to quit smoking and deal with cravings at work
Cravings can last anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes. Those few minutes can seem like ages. When at work, cravings often hit at the same time as breaks because the brain is used to getting the nicotine at that time. While at work, for those long minutes, it helps to find something to do to distract the brain and hands.
- Set up a timer to make the wait seem less long
- Call a friend or family member to provide a talking distraction
- Set up a music playlist and listen to it when cravings hit so when the music stops, the craving may pass
- Chew gum
- Do anything to distract the brain, such as tidy the desk, water office plants, go for a short walk, or open a puzzle book
- Practice deep breathing techniques to focus the brain on breathing or counting
- Play with toys such as a Slinky®, yo-yo, Rubik’s® Cube, or fidget spinner
Take advantage of workplace smoking cessation programs
Employers want workers to quit smoking because it’s not only healthier for their employees, but it can save them money on insurance premiums and reduced employee sick time, boost production, and improve office morale. For those reasons, many companies offer cessation programs and incentives to help employees quit. For example, Quill offers a monthly insurance plan discount for nonsmokers. Some popular office-provided strategies to quit smoking include:
- Contests or rewards where employees earn money for being smoke-free after so many months
- Free kits with gum, toys, and books to anyone who wants to quit
- Cover costs or eliminate co-pays for medications
- Provide books and magazines, individual counseling, or group counseling
- Lower health insurance premiums for nonsmokers
- Events such as the Great American Smoke Out
- Community programs like the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking®
Visit your human resources or benefits department at work and ask what programs are available for smokers who want to quit. Many companies have quit smoking posters and other motivational art all over to show employees that help is available. Keep an eye out for them when walking down the halls.
Employees in an office all day can still quit smoking without dealing with withdrawals that hinder work. Ask around at the office about cessation programs. Before long, it will be possible to go an entire day without even thinking about a cigarette.