Workplace Wellbeing

Tobacco Cessation is a Piece of the Workplace Well-Being Puzzle. Build the Case for Organizational Support.

There’s a common misconception that tobacco use is a problem of the past. But its financial and personal costs remain high, emphasizing the urgent need for support and intervention.

Written by
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Jess Maynard
Clinically reviewed by
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A woman sits on a couch as she holds her hand up to cover a cough

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    Take a moment to reflect on the people in your life who use tobacco or vaping products. Chances are, you know at least one person facing this challenge.

    Globally, approximately 23% of adults use tobacco products. Projections suggest this number will increase to 1.6 billion over the next 25 years. This surge paints a grim picture, with tobacco-related deaths surpassing those from car accidents, homicide, suicide, maternal mortality, AIDS, and tuberculosis combined.

    In the U.S., tobacco use is the highest risk factor for preventable deaths. Its toll extends beyond individual health to substantial economic burdens, including:

    • Over $240 billion in healthcare spending
    • Around $185 billion in lost productivity due to smoking-related illnesses
    • $180 billion in lost productivity from premature death
    • $7 billion in lost productivity attributed to secondhand smoke exposure

    There’s a common misconception that tobacco use is a problem of the past, especially as more people turn to vaping. However, vaping is still a tobacco product. The financial and personal costs of tobacco use remain staggeringly high, underscoring the urgent needs for support and intervention.

    The costs of tobacco use

    Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disability in the U.S., and there are considerable benefits to quitting, regardless of how long the person has been using it. These benefits include:

    • Improving physical and mental health
    • Adding up to 10 years of life
    • Saving employers and employees money 
    • Reducing out-of-pocket medical costs for related chronic conditions

    2Morrow’s Chief Science Officer Dr. Sue Zbikowski , explains that, “If a population of individuals are unable to stop, they’re more likely to die ten years earlier…but the encouraging thing is that people do want to quit. 

    “We see about 70% of people want to quit, and each year, about 50-60% will actually make a quit attempt on their own…No matter when someone quits, there is a benefit, no matter how long they’ve smoked.”

    Financial costs are also important in this conversation. Someone who smokes a pack a day is spending thousands of dollars a year on cigarettes alone (excluding healthcare costs), depending on what state they live in.

    Quitting tobacco is multilayered

    People are generally aware that using tobacco products is harmful, and yet many people continue to use them. Quitting tobacco is notoriously difficult and about more than just nicotine addiction. There are also behavioral, psychological, and environmental factors involved in this struggle and a deep connection with mental health. 

    Dr. Zbikowski frames it this way: “To really quantify this, someone who smokes half a pack of cigarettes a day—every single day, for 20 years—has approximately 1.5 million hand-to-mouth associations. You can imagine all the situations and circumstances that individual is in where they have to overcome thinking about the rituals and routines. This speaks a little bit to why it’s so difficult to overcome the addiction of tobacco.”

    Mental health conditions and tobacco use

    Quitting tobacco use is often about more than just tobacco use in isolation. People who struggle with mental health challenges have significantly higher rates of tobacco use. Mental health and tobacco use can become linked as people smoke to cope with emotional challenges. 

    2Morrow’s CEO Jo Masterson notes that, “This addiction is serious and hard to quit. I think we need to treat it seriously and we need to treat people with compassion…this is really, really challenging.” 

    She goes on to say, “We don’t want to address anybody as their disease…we don’t need to treat people as smokers or addicts. We need to treat people as people who have this variety of challenges in their life and to treat individuals holistically.” 

    When thinking about tobacco cessation programs, there needs to be consideration of how to treat the whole person. By addressing the multiple, interlinking issues around tobacco cessation, including mental health, more people are likely to be successful.

    The role of workplaces in tobacco cessation

    Employers had a huge role in the decline of smoking that occurred since the mid-1960s, when around half of the U.S. population smoked. Now, this number is just under 12%.

    Employers have been critical in implementing smoke-free workplace policies, recognizing the need to offer tobacco cessation programs within their benefits packages, and promoting awareness and education. 

    Workplaces are critical in helping individuals understand the benefits of quitting and giving them a tangible pathway to success. 

    How Spring Health and 2Morrow are helping people quit

    Spring Health and 2Morrow, a leading provider of evidence-based tobacco cessation solutions, have partnered together to support employees who want to stop using tobacco. We do this by addressing the interconnected physical and mental health challenges related to smoking or tobacco use issues. 

    The underlying philosophy behind these offerings is to support individuals using a whole-person perspective. In other words, if an individual asks for help, they are given support with related concerns and/or mental health needs. 

    An integrated approach to care

    Our goal is to meet individuals wherever they are in their journey, without judgment, in ways that reduce shame and stigma. We take an integrated approach to tobacco cessation through the following guiding principles:

    • Easy, integrated sign-up via the Spring Health platform
    • Private, personalized programs
    • Whole-person approach

    Here’s an example of how this program employs a whole-person approach. If somebody is working on quitting smoking and gets discouraged, instead of dropping out of the program, we often see them moving over to the stress management program, messaging a coach, or setting up a call with them to talk through their struggles.

    Privacy, comprehensive support, and gold-standard treatment

    2Morrow cofounder Jo Masterson notes, “Privacy is super important. When we talk with pregnant women, they’re less likely to talk to their doctors…or enter a program because they tell us…they feel so judged.” When you can undergo a smoking cessation program privately, on your own, that is less threatening and gets more people to begin quit attempts.

    Along with privacy, members are also given access to:

    • The ability to message coaches in real-time, at anytime
    • Calls with coaches
    • Therapy if they need additional help
    • Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT)
    • Medication when appropriate 

    Science will win—a data driven approach

    All aspects of this tobacco cessation program are built on evidence-based, published, scientific results. This program has been proven to work clinically and as a driver of ROI. 

    There are 12 published studies in peer-reviewed journals illustrating successful results, including:

    • A 43% quit rate 12 months after the initial assessment (with NRT, 34% without NRT), compared to a less than 7% quit rate for those who quit on their own
    • $5,800 savings per employee per year after quitting

    There’s so much value in centering people

    This may sound like it’s all about quantitative results, but as Dr. Zbikowski notes, it’s really about changing lives. Instead of just talking about ROI, she likes to bring it back to the concept of value on investment, which is about an organization:

    “Ultimately deciding what they value the most…it could be the number of people who quit [smoking], it could be the financial savings, but it could also be improving the life and well-being of their employees. Having healthier, happier employees…having better retention…or being able to recruit employees they couldn’t before because they have a robust benefits package.” 

    A proven tobacco cessation solution integrated with a broader mental health platform significantly benefits individuals and organizations. Ultimately, every company must consider how a program like this might fit into its mission, vision, and values. 

    “Wow, I have reached 6 months of no smoking! It feels so good to just breathe in all this fresh air. I feel like I will be around to watch my grandkids grow up. Thank you.”

    Explore strategies for behavioral change in addressing global Substance Use Disorders challenges, including modern care solutions and workplace initiatives to cultivate a holistic well-being culture. 

    About the Author
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    Jess Maynard

    Jess is a seasoned writer who has completed graduate work in women’s studies. She also works at a domestic violence shelter facilitating support groups for children and teens. Jess follows her curiosity devoutly and is committed to using her accumulated knowledge and life experiences to articulate facets of being human.

    About the clinical reviewer
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