“Smoking Cessation Program in Workplace” research result announcement
Employee quit rate and reduction rate closes to 70%
Higher quit rate with employer support
(Hong Kong - 18 July, 2019) Sponsored by The Tobacco and Alcohol Control Office of the Department of Health, The Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society, Kowloon (LST) has launched the “Smoking Cessation Program in Workplace” (The Program) since 2013, to promote smoking cessation in workplace. The third phase of The Program came to a satisfactory close in December 2018.
LST appointed The School of Nursing and School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong to evaluate the effectiveness of the 2-year program. A total of 92 corporates enrolled in The Program, and 801 smokers were served. Together with the first and second phases, the entire program has served more than 270 corporates and more than 2,100 smokers accumulatively.
Near 70% of quit rate and reduction rate
Dr Kelvin WANG, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, The University of Hong Kong, who is in charge of evaluating the effectiveness of The Program, mentioned that among 801 service users, 8.5% were female (n=68) and 91.5% were male (n=733), with mean age of 36 years old.
The Program included 2 kinds of interventions: (1) intensive health talk with semi-personalized WhatsApp interaction; and (2) general health talk and regular SMS message. All service users received self-help booklet and telephone counselling at follow-ups.
The Program started in January 2017. A total of 5 follow-ups were conducted (i.e., 1st week, 1st month, 3rd month, 6th month and 1st year after baseline contact) to evaluate the smoking cessation status of participants in the past 7 days. Statistical results showed the overall quit rate was 20%, reduction rate was 49.5%, reduction rate of daily cigarette consumption by ≥ 50% was 21.5% at 6th month follow-up. At 12th month follow-up, the overall quit rate was 22.6%, reduction rate was 46.9%, and reduction rate of daily cigarette consumption by ≥ 50% was 19.4%. The total quit rate and reduction rate reached 69.5% at 12th month follow-up.
Social media platform enhances the smoking cessation counselling efficiency
Nearly 50% of the service users are aged below 40 years, smart phone is a common tool for daily communication. Previous research indicated that a lack of family and peer support was one of the main reasons of quitting failure. In light of this, LST initiated a new counselling channel in the third phase of The Program by using information and communications technology (ICT). WhatsApp and SMS can disseminate the quitting tips and encouraging messages, and allow interaction between the service users and counsellors to provide psychosocial support in their quitting journey. Results showed that service users who had real-time interaction through WhatsApp with smoking cessation counselors had more than 1.4-fold higher quit rate than those not engaged in real-time interaction at 6th and 12th month. In the qualitative interview, service users reported that they could read and reply to WhatsApp messages in spare time and telephone counselling was inconvenient during working hours. Recording, images and video enriched the counselling context. Prof LAM Tai-hing, BBS, JP, Chair Professor of Community Medicine Sir Robert Kotewall Professor in Public Health School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong, pointed out that there were many possible factors influencing a smoker to quit smoking successfully. Apart from providing additional counselling channels, it was crucial to provide holistic support at company level and encouragement from employers and fellow colleagues.
High company satisfaction
In general, participating companies were satisfied with the smoking cessation services. Companies rated 8.2 out of 10 reflecting The Program improved the knowledge on health and hazards of smoking. For overall service satisfaction, LST scored 8.6 out of 10. Nearly 90% of the companies stated that they would join the service again and were willing to recommend the service to other companies.
Dr. YANG Xiao Ling, Chairlady of The Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society, Kowloon, said that the “Smoking Cessation Program in Workplace” provided outreach smoking cessation services to companies to facilitate set-up of internal policies, conduct health talks and workshops. A total of 92 corporates joined the third phase with 10% increment in the number of smokers participating in third phase compared with the second phase. This did not only reflect that employers tended to pay more effort in helping employees to quit smoking, but also proved The Program successfully utilized workplace as an effective health promotion platform through close collaboration with corporates.
In regard to the smoke-free internal policies, LST worked with corporates from diversified industries to develop applicable smoke-free policy according to their specific industrial background and characteristics. With reference to the frontline experience, most of the smokers reached in The Program were lack of motivation. In this way, commonly used smoking cessation aids were not effective to them. In light of this, our programme utilized multidisciplinary approach with concerted effort from registered social worker and nurse. Our team provided professional counselling service and assisted corporates to develop internal smoke-free policy to raise the smokers’ motivation to quit. Direct smoking cessation counselling service was provided by 3 registered social workers and 1 registered nurse to serve more than 800 smoking individual in third phase, with a ratio of 1 counsellor to 200 smoking individuals. The service lasted for 12 months. The intervention content included online counselling and SMS message using motivational interviewing elements, stress management workshops, so as to reduce smoking craving and hence provide comprehensive support to the smokers. Therefore, corporates were urged to incorporate the smoke-free policy into the scope of Corporate Internal Policy with an aim to establish healthy workplace.
The Program is re-launched in 2019 for a period of 2 years. All companies are welcome to join and help build a smoke-free working environment. More companies and smoking employees were expected to be served under our project. In this way, companies could join hands with LST to establish healthy workplace and build a positive image.
Sharing from company
Gammon Construction Limited (“Gammon”), as one of the participating companies, joined over 30 health talks and workshops organized by LST to support frontline smokers in various construction sites to quit smoking. Ms. Jo Ling, the Healthcare Leader, claimed the work performance was closely related to their health behavior. It was the reason why Gammon attached great importance to staff’s occupational safety and health, and was devoted to establish a holistic workplace and caring environment to foster healthy lifestyle. As a result, work performance, efficiency and sense of belonging were enhanced.
Ms. Ling pointed out that intensive and tremendous effort were needed to make the implementation of internal smoke-free policy become effective. With the support by LST, diversified workshops on smoking, alcohol harm, stress management, sleep hygiene were provided to employees to develop healthy lifestyle, and thus increased their motivation to quit smoking. Company and peer support played an important role on increasing their motivation and determination, it was definitely worthy to put effort in promoting smoke-free culture. Gammon would continue to join the new phase of Lok Sin Tong Smoking Cessation Program in Workplace, and target to establish internal ‘Smoking Cessation Incentive Programme’ to further encourage and assist staff in reducing the dependence on tobacco products.
Successful quitter (1)
Mr. Kwok, who works in the field of property management, is a successful quitter of The Program. Mr. Kwok used to smoke 10 cigarettes per day. The dependence became stronger in night-shift duty as the cigarette could kept him “refreshed”. However, Mr. Kwok also realized that smoking might have an effect on his family’s health. He joined The Program as his company launched an incentive program with LST. An award of $2000 cash will be granted for smoker who successfully quitted smoking for at least 1 year
Mr. Kwok attended the health talk and received a 12-month telephone smoking cessation counselling service. The counselor also used WhatsApp with personalized messages and WhatsApp group as an extra means to provide counselling intervention and offer peer support to Mr. Kwok and hence maintain his motivation to quit. In addition, Mr. Kwok also found exercising as an effective way to against the urge to smoke a cigarette. Now, exercising had become a habit even after quitting.
Successful quitter (2)
Mr. Kwok, former senior engineer in construction site, retired in 2018. Mr. Lau once smoked 40 cigarettes a day. He reduced the number of cigarettes to 5 as a realization of the effect of smoking. He even stopped smoking for 1.5 months due to the desire of getting a diving licence. However, he resumed smoking after getting a licence. Although the nicotine dependence was greatly reduced, Mr. Kwok did not have motivation to quit completely as he treated the cigarette as a reward of stressful job. The situation finally came to an end after he joined The Program. Mr. Lau received phone calls, WhatsApp counselling and relapse prevention education by Lok Sin Tong’s counsellor and successfully quitted smoking in 2018.
Mr. Lau shared that the support of his wife and two daughters also drove him to quit smoking. Mr. Lau shared a photo of the quit certificate offered by Lok Sin Tong to his daughter right after he passed the saliva test (test the presence of nicotine in saliva). Mr. Lau still received cigarette invitation from friends but he was determined to say “NO”. Mr. Lau was also happy that he gained better health as a result of quitted smoking and more exercising.
Summary of statistic results
Effectiveness of “Smoking Cessation Program in Workplace”
- In 2-year program (2017-18), 92 companies and 3199 employees participated. Number of smokers was 801, with 8.5% of female (n=68) and 91.5% of male (n=733), while 2398 are non-smokers.
- At 6-month follow up, the overall quit rate was 20%, reduction rate was 49.5%. Quit rate and reduction rate was 69.5%
- At 12-month follow up, the overall quit rate was 22.6%, reduction rate was 46.9%. Quit rate and reduction rate was 69.5%
- 159 health talks were held, serving 801 smokers, 2398 non-smokers, and a total of 3199 participants attended health talks.
- Companies rated 8.2 out of 10 reflecting The Program improved the knowledge on health and hazards of smoking. For overall service satisfaction, LST scored 8.6 out of 10. Nearly 90% of the companies stated that they would join the service again and were willing to recommend the service to other companies.
About “Smoking Cessation Program in Workplace”
Funded by the Department of Health, The Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society, Kowloon, has launched the “Smoking Cessation Program in Workplace” since 2013, to promote smoking cessation in workplace. The Program aims to raise awareness of companies to the importance of supporting staff to quit smoking. More than 270 companies enrolled since 2013. The project helps to set up internal policy, provide health talk to smokers and non-smokers and counseling services to smokers. It is free of charge. To acknowledge the companies who join our program, “Smoke-Free Company Logo” will be awarded.
About The Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society, Kowloon
The Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society, Kowloon was established since 1880. It is one of the charity organization with the longest history in Hong Kong. Over years, its mission is “To relieve victims of disasters & to console people in distress, to provide quality medical care & free medicine, to promote education & to cultivate youngsters and to care for the Old & nurture the Young” The Society currently operates more than 30 subsidiary units across the region to offer a wide spectrum of quality services, including the provision of education, social welfare and medical care. The Society has also spared no efforts to sponsor other community projects particularly in relation to social welfare and education.
Mr. Matthew NG
Medical Service Manager
The Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society,
Tel: 2272 9879 / 9484 3225
Mr. Roy Chu
The Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society,
Tel: 2272 9878 / 6418 1663