H5. Smoking Cessation/Respiratory Health
1 January, 2013
Submitted: 5 April, 2013
At the turn of the year just over 17 per cent of ARAG’s workforce could be classed as regular smokers compared to a national average of circa 21 per cent. Whilst this is arguably favourable, our population of smokers has grown year-on-year and with it has come an array of real and potential issues. For example, our non-smokers have recently voiced frustration at the perceived loss of contribution from smokers and our sickness rates have also steadily climbed (albeit a clear causational affect cannot be categorically confirmed at this juncture).
Other risks to respiratory health are not present in our business and thus not part of the scope of our pledge commitment. This will of course be periodically reviewed.
In 2013 ARAG decided to address this worrying pattern of growth and the associated issues under the umbrella of our forthcoming Health and Wellbeing strategy; ARAGCare. Despite our SME status in the UK, ARAG has made the bold commitment to help those who want to, to quit their smoking habit. To cement this commitment, ARAG has willingly signed up to the Responsibility Deal and specifically pledge H5.
Whilst the exact timescales of this project are yet to be confirmed, by the end of June 2013 we’re aiming to have the following quit-smoking initiatives available to all staff:
1. Quit smoking communications (leaflets and posters) prominent throughout the workplace and reinforced through our absence process and systems.
2. An onsite library of quit-smoking aids (books and CDs) available for colleagues to ‘rent’ at no cost to them.
3. The free provision of NHS or other quit-smoking kits.
4 The provision of and/or reimbursement of quit-smoking aides and provisions e.g. nicotine patches, nicotine gum and e-cigarettes.
This strategy will be reassessed during 2014/5 and the range of initiatives potentially amended and/or extended e.g. to include on- or off-site quit smoking support groups, access to CBT or other recognised method of ‘counselling’.
During 2013/14 we will also look to prohibit the current unofficial ‘smoking breaks’ that many colleagues take. This will be a phased approach in reasonable consultation with our smoking population.
Success is difficult to define. Targeting a ‘quitters’ percentage is problematic; in terms of definition, measurement and longevity of status. In fact, ARAG arguably has little to no control over the final outcome; you can lead a horse to water…
Instead, during the first year we will target an uptake rate in respect of the services and support we offer. This is a somewhat more humble and honest goal over which we have greater control and influence. In year one, we will target a 10% uptake rate (based on average number of ‘regular smokers’ over the period).