News and Events

Great American Smokeout:  An Opportunity for Employers to Make Positive Change
November 21, 2019

For 44 years, smokers across the nation have taken part in the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout (1).

This year, the Great American Smokeout took place on Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019.  This initiative encourages smokers to make a plan to quit on the Great American Smokeout, or to plan in advance and quit smoking on that day.  Creating a quit plan and using proven-effective resources, like Tobacco Free Florida, can significantly increase your chances of quitting smoking for good (2,3,4). Tobacco Free Florida’s Quit Your Way program offers tools and services that are free and proven to help you quit smoking. 

Through efforts locally in Bradford County and in partnership with Students Working Against, several local employers participated in Great American Smokeout efforts.  The Students Working Against Tobacco youth at Bradford High School, filled school staff boxes with Florida Quitline information and resources, as well as provided educational information for the teacher’s lounge, to hopefully spark the desire for tobacco users to make a quit attempt.  Other efforts across Bradford County included the Tobacco Free Partnership providing educational information as well as cessation resources to the Florida Department of Health in Bradford County, Shands Regional Medical Center, and the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office.  Through these efforts, our hope is to continue to support local employers to make it a priority to educate and support their employees through education, resources, and policy change. 

Employers can also use this opportunity to look at their bottom line.  Recent studies of the private-sector in the United States have suggested that employees who smoke cost businesses, on average, more than $6,000 per year when compared to non-smoking employees.  This cost to Florida businesses comes primarily in the form of increased health care costs and productivity losses.  It is no secret that health care for employees is one of the largest expenses facing Florida businesses. 

A report by the Employee Benefit Research Institute indicates that health care costs account for 44.8 percent of after-tax profits among US businesses.  On average, health care costs for your employees who smoke are up to 34 percent higher than those who do not use tobacco. Every employee who smokes can cost your business an extra $2,056 a year in medical expenses.3 Additionally, under the Affordable Care Act, insurers could be able to charge up to 50 percent higher premiums for tobacco users,6  which may further impact your bottom line.  Employers can take advantage of local tobacco prevention efforts and resources provided by Tobacco Free Florida.  Most importantly they can make a difference in the lives of their employees by taking actions to support them through this quitting process.  Here are a few examples of how to start by motivating employees to quit tobacco.

Then, create a supportive workplace culture by motivating your employees to make this important choice using some of the tips below. The more motivated your employees are to quit, the better their chance of success.


• Showcase employee testimonials – Ask former tobacco users to provide testimonials describing their journey to beat tobacco. Hearing about others’ successes will increase the confidence of employees considering quitting.  These stories can be included in areas such as company newsletters, website, or employee break rooms.
• Encourage friendly competition – Create a competition between departments or groups to have the most “kept” pledges to quit smoking.
• Incentivize quitting – Motivate employees with a low- or no-cost incentives, such as a special parking place for a week to someone who has successfully quit.
• Celebrate national tobacco awareness events – Take advantage of nationwide events and campaigns by coordinating your efforts with national tobacco awareness events. For example – Great American Smokeout.

For more information about tobacco prevention efforts in Bradford County, or Tobacco Free Worksite Policies, please contact Candace Osteen at 


(1) "History of the Great American Smokeout." American Cancer Society.

(2) US Public Health Service. Treating tobacco use and dependence: 2008 update. Clinical practice guideline. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, US Public Health Service; 2008.

(3) US Public Health Service. Treating tobacco use and dependence: 2008 update. Clinical practice guideline. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, US Public Health Service; 2008.

(4) Patnode CD, Henderson JT, Thompson JH, Senger CA, Fortmann SP, Whitlock EP. Behavioral counseling and pharmacotherapy interventions for tobacco cessation in adults, including pregnant women: a review of reviews for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med 2015;163:608–21