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Worth of Mouth - The latest on business, wellness and more

Word of Mouth

The latest on business, wellness and more 

Help your employees commit to quit for the Great American Smokeout

The rate of people trying to quit smoking dropped for the first time in a decade during the COVID-19 pandemic, a trend researchers attributed to stress caused by the pandemic. Now more than ever, there’s a need to engage your employees who smoke in evidence-based quitting strategies and to offer them support in their quit attempts.

Smoking and its toll

Smoking doesn’t just take a tragic toll on an employee’s health; employees who smoke impose significant costs on employers. Smoking costs the United States nearly  $300 billion each year, including nearly $170 billion in medical care and more than $150 billion in lost productivity. An individual smoker can cost his or her employer up to $6,000 annually.

Smoking can squeeze a business’ earnings due to:

  • Loss of productivity
  • Higher rates of absenteeism
  • Excess health care costs
  • Additional housekeeping costs
  • Restoration of smoke-damaged infrastructure
  • Higher premiums for fire and property insurance

About 12.5% of American adults smoke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That number may seem small, but in a staff of 200 people, smoking could cost a business as much as $150,000 a year.

Smoking and oral health

Smoking increases the risk for many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but it can also take a serious toll on oral health. The damage includes:

  • Tooth discoloration. The nicotine and tar in cigarettes can cause yellow or stained teeth.
  • Cavities. Consuming nicotine reduces saliva production in the mouth, and without enough moisture, plaque and tartar easily build up on the teeth, leading to cavities.
  • Gum recession. Smoking irritates the lining of the gums, causing them to pull back from the teeth. Nicotine from smoking or vaping reduces blood flow to the teeth and gums, which also contributes to gum recession.
  • Gum disease. Smoking weakens the immune system, which makes smokers more vulnerable to developing gum disease. Smokers have twice the risk of gum disease compared with non-smokers, and that risk increases the more you smoke.
  • Tooth loss. Male smokers are up to 3.6 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers, while female smokers are up to 2.5 times more likely.
  • Oral cancer. Tobacco is the major risk factor for cancers of the mouth and throat. Smokers are 10 times more likely than non-smokers to develop oral cancer.

How to help your employees

November is the perfect time to encourage your employees who smoke to attempt to quit. Each year on the third Thursday of November, the American Cancer Society challenges smokers to give up smoking for 24 hours for the Great American Smokeout. In 2022, the event falls on November 17.

Quitting smoking isn’t easy. Cessation often requires long-term support and encouragement. To give your employees the best chance of quitting and remaining smoke-free, you’ll need to provide them with the facts: what they’re up against, what their options are and where to go for help.

Use the following resources as reminders and encouragement:

It’s also important to remind your employees to take advantage of the regular exams and cleanings available under their Delta Dental plan. A dentist can catch the harmful effects of smoking early and can also prescribe cessation medication.