Wake Forest Baptist Physicians Help Piedmont Companies Snuff Out Employee Tobacco Addiction

May 3, 2004

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Two Family and Community Medicine physicians at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center are taking their tobacco cessation clinic into Triad businesses.

The program is called Tobacco Intervention Program Offsite (TIP Off). Local employers line up five to12 tobacco users to commit to five to six sessions with John Spangler, M.D., and Randall Clinch, D.O. The doctors said the purpose is to reach tobacco users who would not normally visit their doctors just to help them quit smoking.

The employers benefit on their bottom-line. On average, North Carolina employers spend $1400 in extra costs annually for each employee who uses tobacco. Tobacco users also have higher absenteeism rates and lower productivity than non-users, Spangler said.

“Most smokers want to quit, but frequently lack the confidence that they can quit successfully, and thus might not be successful, or even try,” Spangler said. “Studies have shown that intensive programs such as ours dramatically increase the odds of quitting – doubling, tripling or even quadrupling success rates.”

The program begins with an initial information-gathering session where the doctors ask the employees questions about concerns and previous attempts to quit using tobacco, identify individual stages of readiness and forge a support network.

Subsequent sessions involve support in tobacco cessation, medical interventions and relapse prevention. Spangler points out the advantages of having a physician-run program. “As doctors, we can take the appropriate history and prescribe the necessary medicine tailored to the patient that can maximize their chances of quitting,” he said.

Clinch said the support comes from many sources, “the employers, physicians, and probably most importantly, the group support that arises from within the organization, not just from those involved with the program but other employees who offer additional encouragement.”

The employers’ cost for a group is $2,910, which pays for the physicians’ time over the half-dozen visits.

“This is just a fraction of the costs employers stand to save by having their employees quit smoking,” Spangler notes.

For more information about TIP Off, call (336) 716-2794.

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Media Contacts: Shannon Koontz (shkoontz@wfubmc.edu) (336) 716-4587 or Karen Richardson, (krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu).

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