For many working indoors or in an office setting, "smoke breaks" are often a great motivation for smokers, allowing them the opportunity to escape their desks to go outside and give in to their nicotine cravings. Interestingly, smokers take more breaks from work than non-smokers on a daily basis, contributing to $3,396 in loss of productivity costs to employers.
In light of this, non-smokers are arguably more productive than their smoking colleagues.
For individuals motivated to quit smoking, employers can be the perfect partner for ongoing encouragement through the journey to become smoke free. By offering alternatives to the 15-minute smoke break, employers can help inspire team work and foster deeper office relationships.
This builds team trust by supporting employees that may be experiencing potential withdrawal symptoms that may include light-headedness, restlessness, sleep disturbance, poor concentration, irritability and aggression, craving for nicotine, depression, and increased appetite.
"Preparing to cope with potential withdrawal symptoms while still going about your day is an important step to overcoming nicotine addiction," Dr. John Sader, a family physician.
"Talking to your employer in advance about your quit plan is important. They will be able to help with coping strategies, while building the morale of the team."
Alternative activities the workplace can incorporate to replace smoke breaks might include: a walk with a colleague around the office, going out for a quick coffee, stretching breaks, encouraged water cooler chats, sharing funny online videos of the day, or awarding someone in the office a "fun" award.
Workplace programs can boost a smoker's confidence in trying to quit smoking as the average Canadian attempts to stop smoking five times before achieving success and only between five and 10 per cent of smokers manage to successfully quit "cold turkey."
There are many ways in which an employer can help their employee quit smoking such as having readily available information on quitting, helping employees develop a quit plan, drug plan coverage or contribution to support for smoking cessation medications, and having available counselling resources outlined.
For more information about developing an effective quit plan, speak to your doctor, pharmacist or other healthcare professional.