News and Events

The Importance of Creating Comprehensive Tobacco-free Worksite Policies
November 21, 2019
By Tracy DeCubellis and Joey O'Hern

It is no secret that tobacco use is harmful. Despite our knowledge of the multitude of carcinogens and toxins in tobacco, people still use it during work hours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use in the workplace accounts for the most lost worker productivity compared to other causes such as family emergencies or alcohol abuse (1).

Tobacco use and recreational nicotine use via e-cigarettes at work can cost employers money. The loss of productivity for a business with smokers is estimated to cost $4,056 in productivity and $2,056 in medical costs per year (2). Additionally, it wasn’t until recently that unless an employer created a tobacco-free policy for the workplace that includes e-cigarettes and vapor products, employees may be able to use their recreational nicotine devices at work. However with the passing of Prop 9 in the State of Florida, ENDS use is now tied to the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act.

Businesses that create tobacco-free campus policies protect the health and wellbeing of employees. This type of campus wide policy may encourage employees who use tobacco to quit the habit, especially if the campus tobacco-free policy includes cessation help for those who currently use tobacco or recreational nicotine products like e-cigarettes. This is important because statewide, of the 15.8% of adults who currently smoke, 64.9% of them have tried to stop in the last year (3).

“Our goal as a Tobacco Prevention Program is really to educate local employers on the benefits of implementing a tobacco free worksite policy as well as the overall dangers of tobacco use to employees,” states Joey O’Hern the Columbia County Tobacco Prevention Specialist. He went on to say, “It’s our goal that with partnering with community agencies like the Chamber of Commerce we’ll be able to increase the amount of tobacco free worksites in Columbia County.”

A worksite wellness trend in the U.S. is companies providing expanded services for employee wellness programs. In fact, recent studies show that 74% of businesses are considering increasing programs (4). Seventy percent of employers who have established wellness programs found them to be cost-effective.4 The trend across the State of Florida is businesses creating tobacco-free campus policies and enhanced worksite wellness policies that include cessation coverage. Now, most college campuses are tobacco-free as are many hospitals in the State of Florida.

Another exciting trend in Florida, is the availability of recognition for businesses that provide cessation benefits to employees from the Florida Tobacco Cessation Alliance (FTCA). Employers that offer cessation medications and counseling through their insurance benefits can apply for recognition at the FTCA website

Each owner or manager of a business or community organization can take a step to improve the health of employees and boost their bottom-line through tobacco-free policies. For more information or for help in creating a tobacco-free campus policy, please contact the QuitDoc Foundation at 866-355-7848, or



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Implementing a tobacco-free campus initiative in your workplace. Retrieved from
  2. Berman M, Crane R, Seiber E, et al. Estimating the cost of a smoking employee
    Tobacco Control Published Online First: 03 June 2013. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2012-050888
  3. Florida Department of Health. (2015). Florida Behavioral Risk Factor Data. Retrieved from
  4. Attridge, M. (n.d.). EAP integration with worksite wellness programs. Retrieved from