MUNCIE — Quitting smoking — or using any tobacco product — doesn’t have to be a lonesome affair.
Family members and friends are there to offer support, but a surprising group is also available to help people who want to quit: employers.
“We’re trying to build the bridge to employers, help them see what they can do to help their employees quit using tobacco,” said Rachel Buckman, the Tobacco-free Coalition coordinator. “They can do quite a bit, especially when it comes to creating a supportive workplace. We’re focusing on building relationships with local employers to see what we can do together.”
On Thursday afternoon, the local coalition, along with representatives from the Wellness Council of Indiana, met with city and Delaware County employers to discuss options for smoking and tobacco cessation projects for their workplaces.
With employers paying, on average, $3,391 per smoking employee for direct medical costs and lost productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cessation programs have become a popular request among bosses.
And with the 2008 Indiana Adult Tobacco Survey reporting that nearly 80 percent of Hoosier smokers said they want to quit smoking or using other tobacco products, creating cessation programs for the workplace are a win-win for both those who want to quit and their bosses.
“A program like this educates us on what we can do to educate our employees about what’s available for them,” said Sara Lynn, the employee fitness center coordinator for IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital. “People want to know what the employer has to offer in all aspects of wellness and this is just one more way to help them reach their goal.”
Held during the annual Great American Smokeout, the event had human resource specialists and wellness program coordinators from Ball State University, IU Health BMH, the Youth Opportunity Center, Delaware County and other local workplaces meeting with organizers to learn more about the (800) QUIT-NOW and QUIT NOW Tool.
The call line has helped 68,000 people during the last five years, providing Hoosiers with another tool to assist them with quitting a highly addictive activity.
The QUIT NOW Tool is an online program that allows employees to go at their own pace as well as educate fellow employees on supporting those who are in the process of handling their addiction.
The Indiana State Department of Health is hoping to have 100 employers connected with the QUIT NOW Tool before the end of 2013. Presently, 41 employers are using the tool.
Providing employers with different tools to create programs is essential to success, according to the event organizers.
“Everyone has a different style when it comes to to quitting tobacco,” said Adrienne Luegers, program coordinator for the Wellness Council. “We just want to help create a supportive workplace to help everyone that wants to quit. We spend almost a third of our waking hours at work so employers can do a slot to be support and make a difference.”
Contact news reporter Ivy Farguheson at 213-5829.