Employers are rapidly expanding wellness programs, and specifically tobacco cessation, as a strategy to combat increasing health care costs.

Almost all employers that have implemented tobacco cessation, coaching and/or nicotine replacement therapy offer an incentive and penalty, says Dr. Mary Kaye Sawyer-Morse, director of health management at Wausau-based UMR, a national third party administrator for self-funded health benefit plans. But, they vary depending upon the program. Some groups reward employees as soon as they sign a statement vouching that they are tobacco-free on a certain date. "Since this is a recognized label document this holds [the employee] accountable," and health insurance companies observe this person as a smoke-free employee, she says.

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