November is the perfect time to encourage your employees who smoke to quit. On the third Thursday of each November, the American Cancer Society sponsors the Great American Smokeout, a day to inspire people to stop smoking.
Supporting your employees through cessation is one of the most effective steps you can take to help improve their dental and overall health. In honor of the Great American Smokeout, help your employees who smoke create a plan to quit.
How smoking affects your employees’ health
About 34 million American adults smoke cigarettes, and smoking remains the single largest preventable cause of death and illness in the world. Smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths in the U.S. every year, or about one in five of all deaths.
The total economic cost of smoking is more than $300 billion a year, including more than $225 billion in direct medical care for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity.
Most people know that smoking greatly increases the risk for many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. But smoking can also take a serious toll on oral health. The damage includes:
- Tooth discoloration. The nicotine and tar in cigarettes can cause yellow or stained teeth.
- Cavities. Consuming nicotine reduces saliva production in the mouth, and without enough moisture, plaque and tartar easily build up on the teeth, leading to cavities.
- Gum recession. Smoking irritates the lining of the gums, causing them to pull back from the teeth. Nicotine from smoking or vaping reduces blood flow to the teeth and gums, which also contributes to gum recession.
- Gum disease. Smoking weakens the immune system, which makes smokers more vulnerable to developing gum disease. Smokers have twice the risk of gum disease compared with non-smokers, and that risk increases the more you smoke.
- Tooth loss. Male smokers are up to 3.6 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers, while female smokers are up to 2.5 times more likely.
- Oral cancer. Tobacco is the major risk factor for cancers of the mouth and throat. Smokers are 10 times more likely than non-smokers to develop oral cancer.
Resources for the Great American Smokeout
Quitting smoking isn’t easy. Cessation often requires long-term support. To have the best chance of quitting and remaining smoke-free, your employees will need to know the facts: what they’re up against, what their options are and where to go for help.
Use the following resources as reminders and encouragement for your employees:
- Send an email to your employees about the Great American Smokeout.
- Post a flyer to your company’s website about tobacco and your mouth or vaping and your teeth.
- Share the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Reasons to Quit Smoking flyer.
- If you have employees working on-site, hang a quit-smoking poster in a common area to mark the Great American Smokeout.
- Share a brochure about oral health and overall health to help remind employees, especially those who smoke, to visit the dentist regularly. Employees should take advantage of the check-ups and cleanings available under their Delta Dental plan. A dentist can catch the harmful effects of smoking early and can also prescribe cessation medication to your employees.
- Share information from the CDC about quit lines, smoking cessation medication, quitting apps, reminder texts and social media support.