How Blue Cross Can Help Your Employees Quit a Costly Habit   

Amy Barczy

| 3 min read

Amy Barczy is a former brand journalist who authored content...

Hand putting out cigarette in an ashtray
Using tobacco is an expensive habit. It’s expensive for your employees’ budgets. Smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, for example, can cost them almost $2,300 a year. But it’s more expensive for their health, as smoking, vaping and other tobacco use puts them at a greater risk for cancer, stroke, heart disease and lung disease. And it’s expensive to you as an employer: an employee who smokes can cost your company $5,800 each year due to productivity lost on smoke breaks and increased health care costs. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network offer additional resources to individuals to help them quit smoking. As of January 2020, all Blue Cross and BCN members with medical coverage have access to Tobacco Coaching, powered by WebMD®. The program is designed for members who are ready to quit smoking cigarettes or using e-cigarettes within the next 30 days, and members must have used a tobacco product within the past seven days of engaging in the program. To start the program, members should call WebMD at 1-855-326-5102. They will be connected to a specially trained coach who will guide them through a 12-week program. The service is also available in Spanish, and translation services are available in more than 200 languages. Tobacco coaches are available seven days a week during a variety of hours to make it easy for your employees to schedule appointments. During the coaching sessions, the coaches will go over individuals’ current nicotine use and dependence and their history with nicotine before recommending coping strategies. Coaches will proactively reach out to participants during the 12-week program, and participants can call in to the Tobacco Coaching program any time during the remainder of their plan year. Blue Cross and Blue Care Network members who used the WebMD Tobacco Coaching program in 2018 saw success. More than 41% of those who engaged with a coach to quit smoking had remained tobacco free six months after completing the program. People who use telephone counseling and support are twice as likely to keep their commitment to quit smoking. The more counseling sessions, the better the odds. Quitting smoking significantly decreases the risk of heart attack and smoke within the first several years. Within five years, the risk for cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus and bladder drop by half. Blue Cross and BCN members who would like to quit using tobacco, but who aren’t ready to set a quit date in the next 30 days, will be referred to the Quit Tobacco Digital Health Assistant program that’s available through the Blue Cross® Health & Well-Being website when members log in to The Health & Well-Being website offers a number of additional programs to help keep your business cost-effective while investing in the health and happiness of employees. Those include an online health assessment, Digital Health Assistant programs, online trackers and a personal health record. WebMD Health Services is an independent company supporting Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network by providing well-being services. Like this post? Read these:
Photo credit: Rattankun Thongbun
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association