During October 2013, thousands of people across England are taking part in Stoptober, a 28-day challenge to stop smoking, which leads smokers through a detailed step-by-step programme to help them achieve their aim of quitting smoking for good. Giving up for this period of time can have very real benefits – it has been calculated that smokers who quit for 28 days are five times more likely to stay smoke-free in the long-term.
Smoking has a considerable impact on workers and the organisations they work for. A study carried out in Helsinki with 5,470 female and 1,464 male employees attempted to compare health-related behaviours (e.g. smoking, obesity) with medically-confirmed sickness absence. It concluded that smoking is strongly associated with sickness absence. In fact, heavy smoking more than doubled the risk of sickness absence in men, and nearly doubled it in women. In addition, research by the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies (cited in our recent blog about smoking and increased levels of sickness absence) found that current smokers are 33% more likely to miss work than non-smokers and were absent for an average of 2.7 extra days per year.
So what support will be offered to those participating in Stoptober? They will receive:
- an interactive app for iPhone and Android smart phones;
- a free Stoptober pack containing resources to help people get through the 28 days;
- a 28-day stop smoking text message support programme to keep people motivated;
- daily emails with tips and advice;
- support via the Smokefree Facebook page.
Because of the negative impact of smoking not only on workers’ health but, by extension, on the ability of an organisation to remain productive, employers would be well advised to encourage staff to give up smoking. Resources are available for organisations that want to promote the Stoptober programme to workers (see the ‘Smokefree resource centre’). Or for further guidance on smoking in the workplace, or on workplace health issues, contact the free Health for Work Adviceline on 0800 0 77 88 44.