Few Employers Offering CDC-Approved Stop Smoking Program

October 26, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - A new study by a business advocacy group found that only a small fraction of employers polled offer smoking cessation programs to workers that are as comprehensive as recommended by federal health officials.

A Business Insurance report said the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) -sponsored survey found only 2% of employers offering programs that fit within U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

Ron Finch, a NBGH vice president, said part of the reason may be that the CDC identified the elements of a comprehensive smoking cessation program only last November. That would have put it after many employers had already designed their 2007 benefit plans.

“I think employers have been confused about what to do,” Finch said, according to Business Insurance. “I think that next year we’ll see a lot more employers introducing this evidence-based approach, and we will also likely see more employers make their campuses smoke-free.”

The CDC’s recommended stop smoking program includes:

  • Covering at least four counseling sessions of at least 30 minutes each, including telephone and in-person sessions,
  • Covering prescription medication,
  • Covering over-the-counter nicotine replacement treatments,
  • Providing counseling and medication coverage for at least two smoking cessation attempts per year, and
  • Eliminating or minimizing copayments or deductibles for counseling and medications.

On average, employers offer at least two of the five recommended components – most likely counseling sessions (62%) and prescription medications (61%). Some 37% cover over-the-counter nicotine replacement medication, while 36% cover at least two quit attempts and 27% eliminate or minimize copayments or deductibles for counseling and medication.

The survey was conducted online between August 31, 2007, and September 7, 2007, by StrategyOne, an applied research consulting firm, and fielded by Harris Interactive Service Bureau. Participants included 506 employers with 1,000 or more employees.