Smokers Kick the Habit; Companies Reap Benefits - at Very Low Cost

Research on implications of workplace smoking cessation programs
    • July 1, 1997

From 1992 to 1995, researchers at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, Ann Arbor, Mich. developed a computer simulation model to evaluate the health, economic, and demographic implications of a worksite smoking cessation program.

Because of the simulative nature of the project, it was able to focus on both short- and long-term outcomes, employee turnover, and community benefits that would be extremely difficult to track in an actual experiment.

A company's decision to initiate a smoking cessation program is often based upon its belief that it would be financially beneficial to the company, leading to lower health care costs and rates of absenteeism, for example.

Key Findings

  • The results were published as the lead article in the October 1996 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The article reported the following findings:

    • The project's most significant finding was that in the long run, a smoking cessation program will generate economic benefits that exceed the program's cost.

      Financial returns in the areas of health care, absenteeism, on-the-job productivity, and life insurance eventually exceed the cost of the program.
    • Despite the economic benefits of a worksite smoking cessation program, such a program only minimally affects the cost of health care benefits.
    • The project also found that with normal employee turnover, approximately half of the health and economic benefits associated with a workplace smoking cessation program are realized outside the firm.