Time to stop: kicking smoking and vaping into touch

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No Smoking Day on 13 March is a great opportunity for employers to launch workplace campaigns and programmes helping employees to quit tobacco and vaping.

With news reports indicating that the decades-long decline in smoking in the UK has ground to a halt and with increasing numbers of youngsters lighting up, vaping and casually using nicotine pouches, National No Smoking Day on 13 March presents employers with a valuable opportunity to encourage and support staff to quit smoking and vaping.

There are many benefits of doing so – after all, the health of a business depends on the health of its employees. A healthier, happier, more contented workforce creates a more productive and pleasing workplace environment for everyone.

Photograph: iStock/PixelsEffect

A win-win decision for all involved

On a human level it is wonderful to take steps to encourage and help employees deal with addiction and negative behaviours and, if successful, it is self-funding – delivering a compelling return on investment rather than a cost. The costs of issues such as smoking, alcohol abuse, poor diet and fitness means it makes economic sense to provide employees with access to life-changing programmes that will help them:

  • Improve their physical and mental health
  • Improve their workplace productivity and performance
  • Reduce unauthorised breaks
  • Reduce absenteeism through sickness
  • Reduce workplace accidents and incidents
  • Avoid disciplinary action by preventing behaviours that breach certain workplace rules (such as smoking in prohibited areas or consuming alcohol before or during working hours).

Also, smoking in particular contributes to poorer physical and mental health, which results in the individual experiencing a poorer quality of life, so it makes sense for employers to provide help and support to encourage employees to quit.

The benefits to the business and workplace are clear but it is always best to focus on the benefits to employees when drumming up support for quit smoking or quit vaping initiatives. Workers can be turned off by the notion that their employer stands to benefit from a health initiative they are promoting to staff and that can block their minds to the amazing advantages that can motivate them to take part.

Workplace initiatives are extremely effective

Whether in the form of information talks from external health and wellbeing teams directing smokers and vapers towards NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence)-approved quit smoking methods, or actual in-the-workplace quit smoking sessions designed to inspire attendees to ditch nicotine, the impact can be truly life changing for those taking part.

Some local authorities provide quit smoking programmes in the workplace – often free of charge – but even if payment is required from NICE-approved programmes the return on investment is compelling.

Photograph: iStock/Kerishirotie

The best advice a smoker or vaper can get to maximise their chances of success is to use an evidence-based treatment. NICE recommends certain treatments that have been subjected to their rigorous approval process, and state that the following should be accessible to adults who smoke and wish to quit:

  1. Behavioural interventions, behavioural support and very brief advice
  2. Medicinally licensed products such as bupropion, nicotine replacement therapy and varenicline
  3. Nicotine-containing e-cigarettes
  4. Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking Live Seminars (a genuinely drug-free option).

How to create a successful campaign

The goal is to create a supportive and non-judgmental environment that empowers employees to make positive choices for their health. Providing resources, education and support can go a long way in helping individuals quit smoking.

Encouraging employees to quit smoking is a positive initiative that can contribute to their overall wellbeing. However, it is important to approach the matter with sensitivity and respect for individual choices. Gentle, light-touch encouragement rather than cajoling is required to avoid negative reactions from those you most want to engage with.

John Dicey is global chief executive and senior therapist at Allen Carr's Easyway. Photograph: Allen Carr's Easyway

Top tips for employers wishing to run a stop-smoking initiative or campaign in the workplace (either for National No Smoking Day or as part of a wider, all-year-round health promotion and support programme), include:

  1. Use your local authority smoking cessation service – they are staffed by caring, dedicated staff who are highly motivated to help smokers to quit. They focus on pharmacological approaches (such as prescribing medicinally licensed smoking cessation products), and can often run special on-site events in the workplace.
  2. Be sure to offer a drug-free programme as an alternative to option one. Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking Live Seminars are a genuinely drug-free option and are sometimes available free from local authority smoking cessation services. However, even if they are not available free of charge, they can be purchased direct and it is a good idea to offer them. They can be held on-site, offsite, or via Zoom and pre-seminar publicity resources are provided to enable the employer to promote the seminars to staff.
  3. Check out what smoking cessation services might be available via your corporate health insurance provider. For example, Vitality Health fund 100 per cent of the fee for their policyholders to attend an Allen Carr’s Easyway to Quit Smoking Live Seminar.
  4. Use internal communications and noticeboards to publicise the campaign, as this will encourage smokers to sign up in advance.
  5. It is important to allow flexible break times or time off for smokers to attend quit smoking events and providing something for non-smokers at the same time will help avoid any ill-feeling about colleagues being given breaks from work to attend smoking cessation sessions or provided with initiatives that are viewed as health ‘perks’. For instance, non-smokers could be simultaneously offered a selection of alternative employer-funded or subsidised health benefits or initiatives, such as yoga, gym passes and general wellbeing workshops. This will create a buzz about the employer-led stop smoking campaign that resonates across the whole workforce, since it aims to support the wellbeing of everyone at work.

Pass on some tips to your employees

If you are producing promotional messages and collateral for No Smoking Day, here are some top tips you can pass on to actively encourage staff to stop smoking or vaping:

Top Tips

Using Allen Carr’s Easyway to Stop Smoking/Vaping Live Seminars, Online Video Programme, or the books Allen Carr’s Easyway to Quit Smoking or Allen Carr’s Easyway to Quit Vaping makes it easy to apply these tips.

  1. Set your date and time to stop and carry on smoking or vaping as usual right up to that time – don’t try to cut down beforehand; that just makes cigarettes seem more precious rather than less so.
  2. Remember – you are not giving up anything because cigarettes and vapes do absolutely nothing for you. They seem to make you feel better – but remember – all each cigarette or vape does is end the period of very mild dissatisfaction created by the nicotine withdrawal that followed the previous one. That is how drug addiction works. That is how we are fooled into thinking we like smoking – or at least get some form of help from it. You are going to enjoy being a non-nicotine addict right from the moment you take your final puff.
  3. Have your final puff and make a solemn vow that regardless of what highs or lows may befall you in future, you will never do it again. This is one of the most important decisions you will ever make because the length and quality of your future life critically depend on it. What is more, you know it is the correct decision even as you make it. Having made what you know to be the correct decision, never even begin to question or to doubt that decision.
  4. Your body will continue to withdraw from nicotine for a few days but that does not mean you have to be miserable. The physical withdrawal is very slight – there is no pain – and it passes quickly. The unpleasant physical discomfort you have experienced in the past when you tried to quit was not caused by nicotine withdrawal – but because you felt you were sacrificing something special. You are getting rid of smoking or vaping – not ‘giving it up’ – so there is no need to feel like you are missing out on anything.
  5. If you associate a cigarette or vape with a coffee, tea, drink or break, have your coffee, tea, drink or break and at that moment, instead of thinking: “I can’t have a cigarette now” and feeling glum, simply remind yourself how lucky you are to be free. There is no need to stop going to the smoking area or avoiding friends or colleagues who smoke or vape – as long as you are happy to be free – you won’t envy them. In fact, they will envy you.
  6. If you are offered a cigarette or vape after you quit, just say: “No thanks – I don’t smoke/vape,” rather than start a long conversation about how long it has been since you stopped.
  7. Don’t try not to think about smoking/vaping – it doesn’t work. If I say: “Don’t think about a brick wall,” what do you find yourself thinking about? Just make sure that whenever you are thinking about it, you’re not thinking: “I want a cigarette/vape and can’t have one” but instead: “Isn’t it marvellous – it’s fabulous to be free”. Reframing how you feel about quitting makes it an entirely positive act. The more you think about it – the happier you will be.
  8. Never be fooled into thinking you can have the odd puff just to be sociable or just to get over a difficult moment. If you do, you will find yourself back in the trap in no time at all. Never think in terms of one puff; always think of the whole filthy lifetime’s chain. Remember: there is no such thing as just one.
  9. Do not use any substitutes. They all make it more difficult to stop because they perpetuate the illusion that you are making a sacrifice. You are not sacrificing anything – you are getting rid of a disease.
  10. Do not keep cigarettes or vapes on you or anywhere else in case of an emergency. If you do, it means you are doubting your decision. Non-nicotine addicts do not need cigarettes or vapes. You are already a non-nicotine addict the moment you have your final puff. In fact, one of the many joys of being free is not having to worry about having cigarettes or vapes on you, and ending that feeling of slavery forever.


John Dicey is global chief executive and senior therapist at Allen Carr’s Easyway


For more advice on quitting smoking and vaping, see:




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