Cigarette Addiction is a Tough Mistress

Comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - See more at

I’ve never been a smoker, so I can’t speak from experience, but from what I’ve seen, quitting cigarettes is hard.  I will always remember a conversation about cigarettes with my grandfather.  He said, “I haven’t smoked in 30 years.  I still get cravings for them.  If I knew I was going to die in 6 months, I would start smoking again today…”

Lifeplex in Plymouth sent out a sign up program for a smoking cessation program.  It is an 8 week program.  The cost is only $40.  As an additional carrot, the program included two free months of membership in Lifeplex.

I thought the Lifeplex program was a good one.  One I was willing to promote with ECC employees, of which we had four smokers that I knew of.  To sweeten the pot, I added  the following incentives:

  1. The class fee would be paid up front by ECC and deducted at $10 per week as a payroll deduction.
  2. The class fee would be refunded when the employee completed the course, plus an additional $20 bonus.  (Where else do you get a 50% return on your investment?)
  3. If the employee remains smoke free for 6 months, he will receive an additional $50 bonus.

Image borrowed from American Cancer Society websiteSo if you count the class cost, ECC offered $110 to an employee to quit smoking.  Cigarettes are relatively cheap in Indiana compared to other states – at $5.50 a pack –  according to a couple of websites I reviewed.  Assuming that you save $2 per pack by buying them by the carton, a pack-a-day smoker spends $1,278 per year on cigarettes.  So at the end of that six months, an employee who had taken my offer and successfully quit smoking would have an additional $749 in his pocket.  (You can figure your own savings here.)  If he wants a further boost, he could bump his 401(k) contribution by that savings ($21 per week),with a 25 cent on the dollar match from ECC, and he would have $936.  That’s ignoring tax savings for the additional contribution and any growth that money would see through investment rather than literally watching it go up in smoke.

Though the savings above are great, they pale in comparison to the health benefits of quitting.  Plus almost everyone has family members that would benefit if they quit.

Unfortunately, none of our employees took advantage of this opportunity.  It may not have been convenient or it may just not be the right time.  I talked to Mary Holm at Lifeplex a couple of times and she emphasized that this has to be an individual decision.  The hope is that even though the impetus to quit wasn’t there this time, it might have started the thought process that leads to quitting.  While I believe in individual freedoms in matters such as these I would also like to see ECC be voluntarily smoke free.

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