New Web Site Highlights Importance Of Smoking Cessation

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The Florida Institute for Smoking Cessation (FISC), a statewide coalition committed to reducing smoking rates in Florida, today announced the launch of a Web site geared towards educating employers about smoking cessation.

The new Web site, www.FloridaInstituteForSmokingCessation.com , serves as a resource for those seeking information on nicotine dependence and the positive effects of providing smoking cessation coverage as a standard health benefit.

"This Web site is an exciting step towards creating a healthier, more productive work force in Florida," said Brenda Olsen, chief operating officer of the American Lung Association of the Southeast and co-chair of FISC. "By providing comprehensive smoking-cessation coverage as a standard health benefit, employers can improve the health of their employees and also save money in the process."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that smoking cessation benefits for employees include at least four 30-minute counseling sessions, coverage for all FDA-approved prescription and over-the-counter smoking cessation treatments, as well as counseling and medication for at least two smoking cessation attempts per year -- all with low or no co-pays or deductibles.

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Economic Study

The FISC Web site contains data on valuable cost-savings for employers who provide smoking-cessation benefits, including a study by the Washington Economics Group that found smoking costs Florida's economy more than $20 billion per year.

The study estimated that each dollar spent on smoking cessation programs will yield $1.90 to $5.75 in gains for Florida employers, insurers and governments. When a smoker does quit smoking successfully, a full 25 percent of the total financial benefits go to his or her employer in the form of increased productivity and reduced absenteeism.

In the Spotlight

The site's "In the Spotlight" feature profiles CSX Transportation, a company leading the way in the battle against nicotine addiction, which adopted a "hate smoking but help the smoker" attitude.

CSX reports the company's immediate health care cost savings exceeded $365,000 in the first two months after initiating smoking cessation coverage. At such rates, CSX estimates it could save $3 million in medical costs and an additional $3 million in increased productivity each year.

"We plan to update our site frequently and are looking forward to adding more features in the coming weeks, including a tool kit to help employers implement smoking cessation programs at their businesses," Olsen said.

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