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Tobacco Free Florida prepares for the Great American Smokeout | Events

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Tobacco Free Florida prepares for the Great American Smokeout
Events, Health, News
Tobacco Free Florida prepares for the Great American Smokeout

Pasco County, Florida -- In time for the Great American Smokeout taking place on November 21, the Florida Department of Health's Tobacco Free Florida program and the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County are encouraging businesses across Pasco County to help their employees quit tobacco.

The Florida Department of Health in Pasco County offers employers free assistance in developing tobacco cessation programs, whether it's through the company's health insurance provider or the state's free cessation services.

Nearly 70 percent of smokers want to quit, and getting help through their employers can increase their chance of success while simultaneously benefiting the business.

Dr. Marc Bellas, Pasco County Personnel Manager, quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson to have said, "The first wealth is health!" Dr. Bellas further explained, "What better benefit can you provide an employee than the opportunity to improve their health?  Each year, more and more of our folks dedicate themselves to becoming tobacco-free.  It's great to see what it means to them as they become wealthier."

Health care costs are one of the largest expenses facing Pasco County businesses. On average, health care costs for employees who smoke are up to 34 percent higher compared to non-smokers. Every employee who smokes can cost employers an extra $2,056 a year in health care expenses.  

Tobacco use is also the leading cause of productivity loss at work. In fact, each smoker can cost a business an average of $4,056 every year in lost productivity including sick days, distraction at work, and smoking breaks.4 Workers who smoke at least one pack a day experience 75 percent more productivity loss than non-smoking workers.

"Businesses who want to help their employees quit tobacco should also implement a tobacco free grounds policy at their workplace," said Tobacco Free Florida Bureau Chief Shannon Hughes. "These policies are one of the most effective ways to help employees quit and it creates a healthier environment for all."

Tobacco free grounds policies nearly double the chance that employees will quit. For those that do not quit, the policy will reduce the number of cigarettes smoked by employees during the week.

Tobacco free grounds policies are easy to enforce. More than 80 percent of Floridians do not smoke, and research has shown compliance rates for tobacco free grounds policies to be more than 96 percent.

The Tobacco Free Partnership of Pasco County invites the public to attend its quarterly meeting on Thursday, November 21, 2013 from 3:00pm-5:00pm at the Rasmussen College Land O' Lakes campus located at 18600 Fernview Street. This month, they will focus on how employers can establish a healthier bottom line by creating a healthier, smoke-free workforce. This meeting is open to anyone who is interested in addressing this topic and helping Pasco become tobacco free.

For more information, please contact Samantha Brighton, the Tobacco Prevention Specialist at the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County at Samantha.Brighton@flhealth.gov or 727-861-5250, ext. 161.

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