Iowa companies are being encouraged to offer tobacco cessation programs as part of their health insurance benefits package. Wally Gomma, president of the research and consulting firm Trajectory Health, helped lead a seminar for Iowa employers today in Des Moines. He says business owners are often reluctant to invest in a program to help employers quit smoking because they simply view cigarettes as a "bad habit."
Gomma says employers should realize smoking is actually an addiction, which provides a "compelling and compassionate need" for the employer to help employees quit. Gomma claims assisting employees with quitting pays huge dividends by producing a healthier workforce.
"Which is going to produce lower insurance costs as well as employees that are going to have less absenteeism and be more productive on the job," Gomma said. The seminar was organized by the insurance consulting and brokerage firm Holmes Murphy, for which Gomma is senior vice president. Steve Flood is also a senior VP with Holmes Murphy.
"Not only will having employees quit smoking reduce the employers’ insurance costs, but it will also ultimately the employees’ costs who don’t smoke. As insurance costs go up and health claims go up, it’s spread over all employees. So, it’s not only beneficial for the employer, but for all employees whether they smoke or not," Flood said. A near-ban on public smoking in Iowa is scheduled to take effect on July 1. The law will affect nearly every workplace in the state.