Marijuana, cigarettes, and vaping have been creating quite a buzz in the United States over the past few months (pun intended). With the media covering the politics and health benefits/drawbacks of all of the above, perhaps you are considering revamping your organization to fit the model of the “smoke-free workplace”. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the cost of lost productivity and health expenses due to smoking to be close to $200 billion. From the employer’s point of view, just two smoke breaks a day could cost you about $3000 per employee. With these figures alone, the benefits of going smoke-free is no stretch of imagination. 

How do you create a lung-friendly office environment? With a proper plan in place (like the one that follows), you can achieve a smokeless workplace in less than 4 months!

First Month: 

  1. Pick the date you want your office to go completely smoke-free
  2. Form a committee to figure out the impact of going smokefree on your organization, and get feedback from the rest of your employees
  3. State your case for a smoke-free workplace and illustrate the benefits to your staff – then get to working on your policy

Second Month:

  1. Distribute the new smoke-free workplace policy to your employees via email, bulletin boards, or newsletters
  2. Welcome input and make revisions to the policy (at your discretion, of course)

Third Month:

  1. Print the final draft of the policy and highlight the implementation date
  2. Look out for those employees who struggle with tobacco addictions – promote resources like Nicotine Anonymous and other programs through your company’s health plan or through flyers and informational emails

Fourth Month (D-Day):

  1. Buy and install “No Smoking” signs wherever possible in your office
  2. Remove ashtrays, lighters, and smoker zones from your premises
  3. Make sure employees understand the consequences of flouting the new policy

After the plan is in place, test its success by following up with your staff. Commend your team for their progress and remind them that they’re not alone in their fight against addiction – encourage them to take advantage of available smoking cessation resources. 

While this transformation will leave you breathing easier, remember not to stigmatize tobacco users, rather recognize tobacco as the problem and help struggling employees find solutions. On one hand, you must treat this policy as you would any other, with rigid and finite punishments – but continue to offer support, treatment and applaud your team’s commitment towards making the office safer, healthier, and smoke-free.