How to Support Employees Who Want to Quit Smoking

According to a Conference Board of Canada report, daily smokers cost employers $4,256 on average in 2012 as a result of absenteeism and productivity losses. Not only does smoking impact the health and wellbeing of both your employees, it impacts your business’s bottom line.

Quitting smoking is a personal choice that has to be made by an employee, but as an employer there are many ways you can support employees who are trying to quit:

Understand the Quitting Process

Many tobacco users make seven to eight attempts before they are successful in overcoming their addiction. For many people, quitting smoking is the hardest thing they will ever do. The workplace should be a place that supports this challenging process. Employers and co-workers can be supportive by:

  • Showing concern for them no matter what you think about their smoking.
  • Not preaching, nagging or using guilt trips
  • Keeping in regular contact with them to offer support and encouragement
  • Being sensitive to the moods and needs of the smoker who is quitting
  • Letting them know you believe they can do it and that they have your support whether they are able to quit now or later

Offer Incentives

You can also support employees who want to quit by offering incentives and organizing quit and win contests.

  • Find out what prizes would motivate employees.
  • Talk to major suppliers and clients to see if they will donate to this cause.
  • Cash prizes work well and are easy to hand out.
  • Paid time off is always a welcome and an affordable incentive to offer.

Change the Physical Environment

Tobacco-free workplaces actually help those trying to quit by removing powerful triggers to smoke.

  • Work closely with building management to establish a workplace environment that conveys a tobacco-free message. This includes removing smoking shelters and cigarette butt receptacles.
  • Signs should be placed at all vehicle and pedestrian entrances in order to notify employees and visitors that they are entering a tobacco-free workplace.
  • Supply mints, gum or toothpicks in staff common areas to help those trying to quit overcome the urge to smoke.

For additional resources to learn more about supporting employees who are trying to quit, please visit WellnessFits or the B.C. Smoking Cessation Program. QuitNow Services also provides free cessation counselling to B.C. residents online or over the phone by dialing 811 or at