We find a lot of people in plants that we work with still smoke, and one of the challenges is to try to get people to quit smoking for no good reason. It’s still one of the major causes of health problems in this country. We wish everybody didn’t smoke, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. To just offer a smoking cessation program, again, you can’t necessarily get people to wake up one day and say, ‘You know what? I’ve been smoking for 30 or 40 years. I think today’s the day I’m going to stop.’ They need a reason to quit smoking.
We used to have these things we call “The Breakfast of Champions.” Every year we would invite the members of the companies that we were doing wellness programs for, to nominate somebody that they thought had made a significant life change, to become recognized as a wellness hero or champion. We would actually have a meeting. You had to bring your HR person with you so we probably would have 25 or 30 people at these breakfasts. The HR manager for a company would bring Mary, or Joe, or whoever it was that they had nominated, and part of the deal was they had to get up and give their story and why they had decided to make a lifestyle change, what that lifestyle change was, and whether it was quitting smoking, losing weight, trying to manage their cholesterol or get their blood pressure better. It was pretty interesting to see what the reasons were for a lot of people making these changes.
We had one gentleman get up and, I’d say he was clearly very muscular, tattooed, the whole bit, and he got up and said that he had been nominated for being a wellness champion because he quit smoking after 35 years. So I asked my sister and what was the motivation for that, and this big burly guy started crying like a baby in front of everybody to say that, his daughter had gotten to be about 12 years old, and he said, ‘I woke up one day and realized I wanted to be around to see her get married and have grandchildren.’ I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. This guy had been smoking for 35 years and it was the impetus from seeing his daughter get old enough, that he knew he wanted to see her grow older. Still, there was the motivation for him to quit smoking.
The smoking cessation programs that we put on, we think are more effective than what some of the other people do. They’re multiple sessions, I believe it’s around 8 separate sessions, you can have up to 8 or 10 people that are involved in these things, and we generally have about 50 or 60 percent of the people come out the other end of the thing quitting smoking. I think we go out six or eight months and we find that we still have several of the people that have been through those sessions that have still continued to quit smoking. At the end of that, obviously there’s a financial incentive there. Cigarettes have become really expensive. When you can make the cost-benefit pitch to somebody that says you can now take a vacation, you can now make a car payment in some cases, based on the money that you’re saving from not smoking, those are pretty powerful incentives to get people to quit smoking. You need somebody who can coach them through it and we find that the smoking cessation programs we do, actually work pretty well.