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Employer Offers Breaks to Tobacco-Free Employees

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1/16/08 8:35 AM

Michigan: Employer Offers Breaks to Tobacco-Free Employees

By Diane Cadrain

Michigan employer Kellogg’s of Battle Creek has expanded the company health program to offer premium reduction for employees who are willing to make a “tobacco free declaration.” The new premium reduction joins others already in place in the Kellogg plan, which go to employees who are willing to undergo a health screening and a health risk assessment.

Kellogg’s spokes person Kristin Charles explained that this year’s plan changes are “focused on employee productivity, controlling health care costs and […] creating a culture of health.”

The new premium reduction for employees willing to make the declaration that they are “tobacco-free” is $180. Premium reductions for participation in the health screening or health risk assessment are also $180.

Charles described the declaration:

“Essentially, employees were asked to complete a tobacco free declaration online. The declaration gives three options for making a declaration and qualifying for the incentive:

1. I have been tobacco-free for a minimum of the last six months.

2. I have quit smoking, but I have not been tobacco-free for the minimum of six months. I have contacted [a third-party organization whose information Kellogg provides] and will remain in contact with them until I meet the six-month requirement.

3. I wish to stop using tobacco and have contacted [a third-party organization whose information Kellogg provides], and will participate in a smoking cessation program. I agree to remain in contact with my [third-party organization] coach for a minimum of six months.

“It's basically an honor system,” said Charles, “but we will be doing some compliance auditing to check to see if people have registered with our health coaching partner, and that they are fulfilling the requirements,” which is simply participation with the health coach.

The health screenings and health risk assessments, which were already in place, Charles said, are designed to help employees assess their physical health and identify health risks. Kellogg’s offers on-site health screenings at 30 locations for employees and five locations for retirees. During the screenings, participants self-report lifestyle information and weight, while also participating in a variety of biometrics to check waist circumference, cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, triglycerides and BMI. Online or paper health risk assessments are available to those unable to attend a screening.

The health screenings and risk assessments, and now the tobacco free provision, Charles said, join Kellogg’s Feeling Gr-r-reat health program, which has been in place for over 20 years. The program provides employees with a menu of proactive, interactive tools and opportunities to help them pursue healthier lifestyles, address health risks and boost physical activity. These include annual weight loss and fitness challenges, health screenings at most locations, flu shot clinics each winter for employees and retirees, and other initiatives such as health coaching and nutritional counseling.

All salaried and non-union employees are eligible to participate in the company’s Feeling Gr-r-reat programs, including the health screenings and health risk assessments, the health coaching programs, our exercise and weight loss challenges, and flu shot program.

Diane Cadrain is an attorney who has been writing about employment law issues for more than 20 years. She is a member of the Human Resource Association of Central Connecticut.

Related Articles:

Best Employer Programs for Healthy Lifestyles: Key Components, SHRM Online Compensation & Benefits Focus Area, May 23, 2007

Financial Incentives for Wellness: Tips for an Effective Program , SHRM Online Compensation & Benefits Focus Area, May 2007

For more Michigan news as well as recent developments in other states, visit State Workplace Law News on SHRM Online.

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