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Frequently Asked Questions

Pillar 1: Tobacco-Free Workplace

Why does the CEO Cancer Gold Standard require "tobacco-free" workplaces?

Tobacco use is the leading cause of death, disease, and disability. Tobacco-free workplaces reduce exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (a known carcinogen) and encourage tobacco users to quit or cut back. Having a completely tobacco-free workplace makes a statement that the organization is committed to the health of all those who work at or visit the worksite.

Which tobacco-cessation prescription (Rx) and non-prescription OTC products must be covered at no cost, or at a reasonable cost-sharing level, to the employee and covered dependents?

The following FDA-approved tobacco-cessation Rx and non-prescription OTC products must be covered at either no cost or at a reasonable cost-sharing level.

Available by Prescription Only (Rx):

  •      Bupropion SR 150 (generic or Zyban or Wellbutrin SR)
  •      Varenicline (Chantix)

Available Over the Counter | OTC | Nonprescription:

  •      Nicotine Gum  (generic or Nicorette)
  •      Nicotine Lozenges (generic or Commit)
  •      Nicotine Patch (generic or Nicoderm CQ or Nicotrol)

Coverage for the following FDA-approved and CDC-recommended cessation products are optional:

  •      Nicotine Inhaler (Nicotrol inhaler)
  •      Nicotine Nasal Spray (Nicotrol NS)

Note that this list will change as new medications are approved.

What is meant by “employer-sponsored tobacco-cessation programming"?

Examples include a Quit Line service, onsite smoking cessation classes, and onsite support groups. Gold Standard employers organization must sponsor or promote programs that help employees discontinue the use of tobacco. An organization must demonstrate that it has made a concerted effort to help employees quit the use of tobacco. 

Why do e-cigarettes have to be prohibited within a tobacco-free workplace policy?

We’ve taken a strong stance on e-cigarettes as part of our tobacco-free workplace requirements for Gold Standard employers.  E-cigarettes are flavored vaporizing devices that provide nicotine dosing, which means they can lead to nicotine addiction.  Despite the fact that they do not contain tobacco, and the adverse health effects of e-cigarettes are not yet proven (unlike the well-documented adverse health effects of tobacco products), they are explicitly not permitted at Gold Standard workplaces for a number of reasons:

  1. Some people argue that e-cigarettes may be effective in helping people stop smoking tobacco products. However, they are not regulated by the FDA, are often produced outside the U.S., and they contain a range of additional substances that are being studied for toxicity for their users and for others nearby. Therefore, e-cigarettes are not proven to be safe as a tobacco-cessation aid. 
  2. E-cigarette manufacturers are aggressively marketing these products, and there is significant concern that e-cigarettes could make smoking overall more socially acceptable as well as serving as an introduction to smoking regular cigarettes.
  3. Other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Devices (ENDs) are now entering the marketplace as well, and all of those devices are also prohibited at Gold Standard workplaces. Other ENDs may not look like electronic cigarettes, but they similarly deliver nicotine into the user.

Does the tobacco-free workplace policy have to apply to all buildings and grounds?

Yes, the policy must apply to the entire workplace – both indoors and outdoors. Providing designated areas for smoking or separately ventilated facilities does not meet the requirements of the CEO Cancer Gold Standard.  A Gold Standard employer may not have any designated areas for the use of any form of tobacco. 

What is “evidence-based” tobacco treatment?

Counseling and medications are considered to be evidence-based treatment for quitting the use of tobacco. Medications include both prescription (Rx) medicines that are FDA-approved for the treatment of tobacco cessation, and also non-prescription Over-the-Counter (OTC) products that have been approved by the FDA and are considered effective for discontinuing tobacco use.

What is meant by "...reasonable cost-sharing level, for evidence based tobacco treatments"?

Coverage for all evidence-based tobacco-cessation treatments is considered to be provided at a reasonable cost-sharing level if the co-pay or cost sharing is in line with coverage provided for other pharmaceutical products.

Does the tobacco-free workplace policy have to apply to all employees?

Yes, it must apply to all US-based employees, at all sites and facilities, whether they are owned, leased or shared. All current employees should be notified of the tobacco-free policy, and prospective employees should be made aware of the tobacco-free policy during the job interview process. Temporary/ contract personnel as well as visitors to company sites should also be informed of the tobacco-free policy. Gold Standard organizations promote an integrated, positive message, incorporating the notion that “we care about your health” and “here are the programs and support we’re offering to help you stop using tobacco”.