The Tobacco Free Jefferson Partnership is committed to employee health by working with local employers

Story Courtesy of the Florida Department of Health in Jefferson County

If you could have a safer workplace, a cleaner workplace, a healthier workplace, a more productive workplace and it wouldn’t cost you a dime, would you?
If you could save thousands of dollars a year, would you?
Well, that is what several businesses are doing right here in Jefferson County. More and more businesses are discovering the benefits of adopting a tobacco free worksite policy, including a decrease in health insurance premiums, improvement on employee health and increasing workplace productivity.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2008), each year in the United States an estimated 443,000 people die prematurely from smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and another 8.6 million live with a serious illness caused by smoking, costing employers billions of dollars in revenue annually. Recent studies of the private-sector suggest that employees that use tobacco products costs business more than $6,000 per year in comparison to non-tobacco users. This causes businesses an increase with health insurance premiums and productivity loss such as smoking breaks at $3,077 per year. However, more than 212,000 Floridians have successfully quit tobacco using Tobacco Free Florida’s resources.
In fact, there are many businesses that are discovering implementing a healthier working environment by including on-site health newsletters, exercising during breaks, providing healthy eating choices, developing a worksite wellness committee and informing employees of health benefit options empowers employees to lead a healthy lifestyle. These initiatives have a profound effect on employee satisfaction, thus increasing the number of smokers who want to quit by approximately 70 percent, and decreasing productivity loss and healthcare costs.
How can you help employees quit using tobacco products? Employers can set up an education station to include health models and educational brochures on the health hazards of tobacco use, secondhand smoke exposure, and self-help materials. In addition, employers can advertise Tobacco Free Florida’s Quit Your Way Program, which offers free cessation resources, as well as the local Area Health Education Center—Big Bend AHEC—and services provided through health insurance (Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance) i.e., individual and/or group counseling, approved FDA medications, and Employee Assistance Programs.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2006), over 70 percent of employees are currently enjoying a tobacco free worksite.
Since 2009, the Tobacco Free Jefferson Partnership has assisted in the adoption of tobacco free worksite policy’s in Jefferson County to include the Jefferson Senior Citizen Center, Our Blessings Learning Center, Jefferson County K-12: A Somerset School, the Jefferson County School Board, Brynwood Center, and the City of Monticello.
If your business would like to adopt a tobacco free and electronic cigarette free worksite or would like more information, please contact Chastity McCarthy, Tobacco Prevention Program Manager at (850) 342-0170 ext. 1241 at the Florida Department of Health in Jefferson County.