Some random pickups on smoking from my RSS feed this week suggest cessation programs are worth the money, and maybe the thing to do if ADA expands into this area.
First, Tanya Barham, CEO of wellness firm, Recess, and a future contributor to a Benefits blog we're launching in December, riffs on the business case for smoking cessation programs in the Portland Business Journal:
"The Centers for Disease Control estimate that about 23 percent of American adults smoke. And according to a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, men who smoke incur $15,800 (in 2002 dollars) more in lifetime medical expenses and are absent from work four days more per year than men who do not smoke. Women who smoke incur $17,500 (in 2002 dollars) more in lifetime medical expenses and are absent from work two days more each year than nonsmoking women.
CDC statistics show that 70 percent of smokers would like to quit, but few are able to do so on their own. The irony is that even though the National Business Group on Health reports that 82 percent of employers state they should take steps to help employees quit smoking, only 24 percent of employers actually offer such benefits.
The numbers show that simply banning smoking in the workplace is not an effective means of enticing smokers to quit. Even though 67 percent of employers enforce a smoke-free workplace policy, employees of such workplaces say:
- Some 78 percent state the company's policy is not effective in motivating them to quit.
- A mere 14 percent claimed to attempt quitting because of their employer's smoke-free workplace policy.
- Another 15 percent report starting to smoke more while not at work.
As to the effectiveness of cessation programs, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Clinical Practice Guidelines state that tobacco use treatment doubles the chance that smokers will manage to kick the habit. The guidelines recommend counseling, medications or a combination of both as the most effective means to combat smoking in the workplace."
Next up, friend of the Capitalist Michael Moore explores ADA implications related to smoking, and smoking cessation programs:
"Smokers are feeling the heat in the workplace through smoke-free workplace policies. Jon Hyman at the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog has a post asking Are there legal risks with smoking bans? He notes that pushing back on these employer initiatives are 29 states which have enacted laws protecting employees who smoke from discrimination.
Pennsylvania has no law protecting smokers from discrimination. To the contrary, Pennsylvania’s new Clean Indoor Air Act mandates smoke-free workplaces and precludes employees from smoking indoors. However, the law allows employers to prohibit smoking anywhere on company property; it does not prevent the continuation of outdoor smoking areas. Employers are left with the sometimes delicate task of crafting a policy concerning outdoor smoking and monitoring the break schedules of employees who wish to smoke. In addition, many wellness programs have targeted smoking with cessation programs coupled with both financial incentives and penalties.
The Americans with Disabilities Act was recently amended to expand the definition of “disability”to the point that it may encompass nicotine addiction. The few ADA cases on “smoking” as a disability have not recognized a claim based on the pre-amendment definition of disability. However, the rationale for denying disability status to “smoking” or “nicotine addiction” is squarely predicated on the remedial nature of the condition exempting it from coverage of the ADA as expounded in Sutton v. United Airlines, Inc."
Smoking covered by the ADA? What's next, alcohol? Wait a second...