A gift voucher for employees who quit smoking
UM is the first organisation in the Netherlands to investigate whether a financial reward will motivate smokers to quit. The researchers wanted to investigate the positive effects of rewarding employees with a gift voucher if they successfully quit smoking. They also wanted to examine the economic impact smoking cessation has on employees. Maastricht University is currently looking for more companies that are interested in participating in the study and willing to offer their employees a smoking cessation training programme.
Participating employees can earn up to €350 if they quit smoking. They will receive the first gift voucher (€50) immediately after completing the group training session and the second and third vouchers (each worth €50) at the three-month and six-month mark. The fourth and final gift voucher (€200) will be awarded at the twelve-month mark. Participating organisations only pay for the group training session, which is provided by the specialised company SineFuma in Breda. Examples of the more than thirty participating organisations include Bosch Security Systems, Radboud university medical centre, Deen Supermarkten, the Province of Limburg and ABN AMRO. A total of 600 employees from more than forty companies and institutions will follow a smoking cessation course.
Employers view a healthy lifestyle as a shared responsibility and want to enhance the sustainable employability of their employees by introducing concrete projects, such as a smoking cessation course. 'Vitelia views smoking cessation as a mutual challenge shared by employers and employees,' explains Loes Kessels, HR manager for the agricultural cooperative Vitelia. 'Many employees expressed an interest in quitting, but admitted that they weren't able to do it without help. That's why we offered the smoking cessation course. And it was a big success. The participants saw the added value of taking the first step together with a group of colleagues.'
Pulmonary nurse Carien Indemans from the participating Laurentius Hospital in Roermond stresses the importance of seeking professional help to quit smoking. 'Most smokers want to stop, but keep putting it off. Quitting smoking is more than just giving up cigarettes; it's become such an integral part of your system that it influences many more aspects of your life. Making the right preparations and finding the right support is essential to your success. The Laurentius Hospital wants to give its employees the best possible start at a healthy and smoke-free future.'
Companies interested in participating can request more information via catch[at]maastrichtuniversity[dot]nl. The UM study is being funded by the National Cancer Foundation/KWF. Quitting smoking reduces the risk of cancer, which is why the KWF supports studies that promote smoking cessation. Non-smokers live ten years longer on average and lead a healthier life than smokers. In economic terms, employees who smoke cost companies more money. Smokers have an absenteeism rate that is one-and-a-half times higher than non-smokers. Smoking also leads to production losses due to smoking breaks and premature loss due to illness or death.