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Pandemic Preparedness Experts

Pandemic Preparedness Experts
COVID Safe Workplaces

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Compensation Benefits for Smokers

On the eve of the annual Great American Smokeout one needs to reflect on the inadequacy of the national workers' compensation to assist in this effort. For decades, the addictive habit of smoking has been treated as a non-compensable cause and a pre-existing condition. See The Health Consequences of Smoking: Cancer and Chronic Lung Disease in the Workplace: A Report of the Surgeon General. 

Like obesity, workers' compensation insurance carriers have considered it as a risk not associated with work condition even though it has been a synergistic agent in many occupational cancers, ie. asbestos exposure and smoking results in an enormous risk increase for lung cancer. 

To make the workplace safer and end the epidemic of occupational cancers, the compensation system should embrace the effort to eliminate smoking in the workplace and provide assistance to workers to stop smoking.

Great American Smokeout ---

November 19, 2009

Although the United States has made great strides toward reducing the prevalence of smoking, approximately 46 million adults (20.6% of the population) still smoke (1), and every day, another 1,000 young persons become new smokers (2). Annually, smoking results in 440,000 deaths and $193 billion in health-care costs and lost productivity (3). November 19 marks the 33rd anniversary of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout. This annual event challenges smokers to quit for at least 1 day and provides information resources to help them quit permanently.
Quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits, including reduced risk for heart disease and certain cancers. Successful quitting often takes several tries. To improve success, smokers should use proven cessation treatments and services, including health-care guidance, approved medications, and cessation counseling. Combining counseling and medications can more than double cessation success. More information about the Great American Smokeout is available at, and free help for quitting smoking is available by calling 800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) or visiting


  1. CDC. Cigarette smoking among adults and trends in smoing cessation---United States, 2008. MMWR 2009;58:1227--32.
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: detailed tables, 4-10A and 4-11A. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Applied Studies; 2009. Available at Accessed November 4, 2009.
  3. CDC. Smoking-attributable mortality, years of potential life lost, and productivity losses---United States, 2000--2004. MMWR 2008;57:1226--8.