Letter: Less smoke, more profit


LESS-SMOKE-MORE-PROFITWhat would you do if you owned a business that made $35 billion in profit in just one year? If you are like my father, he did not even know where to begin to answer that question.

My dad owns a small construction company and while most may view him as successful, he will tell you that there have been more famines than feasts. When I asked him what he would do with $35 billion, he just laughed and replied that he would be happy with $35 thousand at the end of a year.

Most businesses in northeast Florida, most businesses in St. Johns County even, are small locally or family-owned companies that rely on hard work and determination.

These companies are devastated when key employees get sick, a natural disaster occurs, or the economy slows. When our small businesses are struggling there is a greater burden placed on our community, a greater need for services that stretch resources thin.

What if I told you that the business that earned $35 billion in one year came at a cost to our communities and our small businesses? Hard to believe, I know. In fact, some small businesses are affected more than others. Here’s why: tobacco and nicotine addiction. Employees that are tobacco users can cost employers an additional $6,000 per year in health care costs and lost productivity.

My dad employs blue collar workers, most of which smoke. Granted the nature of the job is outdoors, but the fact is tobacco users tend to take more breaks, use more sick days and have health problems. Meanwhile, tobacco companies are profiting from an employee’s addiction that is not only costing them money, but also their employer.

Needless to say, my dad was motivated to do something to change this reality. In northeast Florida, businesses can contact Tobacco Free St. Johns for the new toolkits designed for businesses that want to help their employees and their bottom line.

The toolkits are customizable and feature a step-by-step process for each strategy that puts the health & wealth back into your business. From working with your health benefits providers to creating a work environment that supports employees quitting, Tobacco Free Florida is committed to helping businesses grow through a healthy workforce.

My dad and I are working to develop a tobacco-free vehicle policy while his employees use the “3-Ways to Quit” program through Tobacco Free Florida. I like that not only do the employees feel supported through the changes, but my dad has support too. My dad does not expect to drastically increase his profit over the next year, instead his motto is “less smoke, our profit” – deciding to equally divide the savings from the strategy as an employee bonus.

Who do you know that owns or works for a small or family-owned business? Share this article with them. The more we take care of each other as a community, the more successful and healthy we can all become. Visit Tobacco Free St Johns or email Heather Sciartelli hsciartelli@civcomweb.com or Mary Ann Steinberg msteinberg@civcomweb.com