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Company Creates Healthier Workforce by Going Tobacco-free and Giving Cessation Help to Employees
CBCCWhen Community Blood Center of the Carolinas leaders decided to adopt a campus-wide tobacco-free policy, they had the health of their employees, donors and the community they serve in mind.

“We really want to be a healthier workplace and going tobacco-free is one of the steps to create a healthier workforce,” said CBCC Human Resources Director Julia Gwynette.

The road to becoming a tobacco-free campus for the Charlotte-based independent non-profit blood center, which supplies blood to 21 of the region hospitals, started in 2010 with the leadership team having several discussions about the change. Eventually, they decided it was the right decision to make and Chief Executive Officer Martin Grable sent out a memo to employees on November 2010.

“Like many employees in our community, CBCC has made the decision to institute a Tobacco Free Workplace effective February 1st, 2011,” read the first sentence of the memo.

The company was not going to allow tobacco use on any part of the company property, CBCC vehicles or personal vehicle while on work time. The memo clearly stipulated that the policy covered any form of tobacco products, "including, but not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, etc."

CBCC emphasized the importance of respecting the policy by highlighting that continuous employee violation of the policy might lead to strong disciplinary action up to and including termination.

In an effort to help employees to adjust to the change, the company took time to educate them about the policy from November 2010 to the day it went into effect and answered questions.

True to the company’s word, it really wanted to create a healthier work force so it went an extra mile in offering help to tobacco users exploring quitting. Through its insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, it offered cessation medications and a Nurse Practitioner to do tobacco cessation counseling. CBCC also promoted the North Carolina Quitline, a number where people can call and speak to a cessation coach for free.

According to Gwynette, since the policy went into effect, several of the tobacco users have successfully quit with others reporting a significant reduction in usage.

Just like any change, the leadership was concerned about how the employees were going to take it. There were fears that tobacco users were going to smoke on neighboring properties and litter with cigarette butts, but, so far, everything is going smoothly.
“We have had no major issues,” said Gwynette “CBCC’s vision is to build and strengthen the bonds of our community. A tobacco-free campus is one of the many steps we are taking to better our workplace and our community. It was not a difficult process at all”.

Gwynette, who herself is a smoker, said the policy has brought so many positives to the company.

Tobacco-free worksite policies lead to a safer, cleaner, healthier and more productive workplace. They also reduce healthcare costs as employees would not be exposed to secondhand smoke and some may even quit using tobacco. For more information on reducing tobacco use among your employees, please call 704-336-4660.

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