<b>Tobacco Policy & Procedures</b><br>

To the Editor:

Why have a tobacco policy and procedure in your place of business?

Good question, shouldn’t people have the right to smoke? Shouldn’t people have the right to work in a healthy environment?

A tobacco policy protects employees as well as patrons to the business. Employees don’t always have a choice of employment do to lack of opportunities or resources.

As employers we want high productivity and low health costs. The bottom line is high quantity and quality of work.

We know tobacco use drives up health care cost as well as decreased productivity. Smoking-attributable total cost of health care in Arizona was $1,005,000,000 in 1998. In Arizona 23.5-percent of the population smokes and 50.5-percent of those have tried to quit (CDC STATE system, 1999). This means that 76.5-percent of Arizonans don’t smoke.

Tobacco users are not necessarily going to quit because the employer implemented a tobacco policy. So why have a policy? Provide a healthy work environment to your employees. Second hand smoke does have an effect on the non user.

Reports in 1992 by the environmental Protective Agency (EPA) reported that second hand smoke causes lung cancer. Sick days and low productivity may be a couple of other effects of second hand smoke.

Many don’t believe second hand smoke does any thing. Although we believe there are effects on people if exposed to a large forest fire or a chemical spill.

So… if we are inhaling smoke, second hand or otherwise, over a period of time, will we not have effects on our health?

We have all walked into a smoke filled room; if we are effected by near by fires wouldn’t we be effected being exposed to the smoke filled room?

CDC in 2004 reported the following information regarding health care cost and productivity levels:

• 10-percent of smokers alive today are living with a tobacco related illness.

• Men who smoke are absent from work four days more per year then men who don’t smoke.

• Women who smoke are absent two more days a year.

• Men who smoke incur $15,800 more in lifetime medical expenses.

• Women who smoke incur $17,500 more in lifetime medical expenses

In 1999, each adult smoker cost employers $1,760 in lost productivity and $1,623 in excess medical expenditures.

In Arizona health care cost yearly that is directly caused by smoking is $100 billion. The residents’ state and federal tax burden from smoking caused illnesses is $496 per household in Arizona. Smoking caused productivity losses in the stare is $1.30 billion.

Improving productivity, decreasing sick days, and lowering health care cost, employers can develop a tobacco policy and procedure. This protects the employees that are not tobacco users from the harmful effects of second hand smoke.

Policy and procedures have also helped those tobacco users who want to quit get motivated and gives them support to quit. Adopting a smoke free policy is the simplest and inexpensive way of lowering health care costs and reducing absenteeism.

Navajo County Tobacco Education and Prevention Program (TEPP) can assist any business in developing a policy and procedure. This service is free of charge.

TEPP can provide policy examples, research, and technical support to any business in Navajo County. TEPP can also provide a quit group at you place of business to help those wanting to quit tobacco use.

Navajo County Tobacco Education and Prevention Program Board

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