New Jersey Prevention Network, working under the umbrella of NJ Department of Health’s Tobacco Free for a Healthy New Jersey, aims to create a comprehensive tobacco prevention, education, and cessation program throughout the state. One of the current efforts is to provide prevention and cessation services to young adults in the workplace through wellness policies. Considering, nearly 9 out of 10 smokers start smoking by the time they are 18 years old, and 99 percent start by the age of 26, intervening during adolescence and young adulthood is critical.
New Jersey passed the Smoke Free Indoor Air Act in 2006. The law requires smoke-free environments in all indoor workplaces. Workplaces include but are not limited to offices, factories, commercial buildings, restaurants, shopping malls, and retail stores. In 2010 the law was amended to include the use of electronic smoking devices. Although this law was passed, data shows there are still disparities in smoke-free environments.
Through the Working Well Tobacco-Free Program, we are working with NJ employers to increase the number of businesses with 100 percent tobacco free worksite policies. The initiative is designed to help individual employers implement at least 5 best practice activities that go beyond NJ law, ensure compliance with the Smoke-Free Indoor Air Act, and include other elements such as a written policy banning tobacco use at the worksite, actively enforcing policy, displaying no-smoking signs with information about the policy, and providing employees with cessation options.
James Alexander Corporation, a small manufacturing company in Warren County, has collaborated with Working Well Tobacco-Free New Jersey to promote employee wellness through becoming a tobacco-free worksite. Tobacco-Free for a Healthy NJ came to the company to provide resources to their staff and speak about the importance of smoking cessation.
Several employees signed up for the free six-week cessation program and successfully completed the program and have remained smoke-free. These employees were recognized in their company for taking the steps to better their health and wellness and serve as role models for other employees who are seeking cessation.