Finnish companies offer employees incentives to stop smoking

cigaretteThe anti-smoking campaign in Finland is continuing apace with municipal employers and companies beefing up their smoke-free workplace policies. Seinajoki, Vaasa and Helsinki are in the process of making their campuses completely tobacco-free, while Nokia, Ylojarvi and Espoo have already prohibited the practice.

So determined are employers to stub-out that they have even taken to covering the costs of nicotine replacement therapies, with cash bonuses being offered in some cases where the habit has been successfully kicked. The return for such an outlay is an overall improvement in the health of the workforce and fewer sick days, reports YLE.

Professor Kari Reijula, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, said however that the smoke-free ambitions of any business should not guilt-trip staff into giving up. “Two-thirds of smokers want to quit, but we all know it’s not easy,” said Reijula.

The first municipal employers to implement smoking bans were hospital districts while experimental bans have also been trialled in Oulo and Kuopio universities. The latest companies to join the trend include various insurance groups, dairy firms and even the Sokos hotel chain.

Elsewhere, the forklift and crane organisation Pekkaniska has launched an employee incentive programme aimed at encouraging quitting rather than imposing an outright ban. ”An employee who’s managed to quit smoking for one year receives a 1,000 euro bonus and 170 euros annually thereafter for staying smoke-free,” said a company spokesperson. The company also offers regular joggers and teetotallers cash bonuses for their diligence.

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