Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, May 24, 2010

MHealthy Tobacco Independence Program helps employees go smoke-free

The American Cancer Society reports more than 443,000 people in the United States die each year from tobacco-caused disease, making it the leading cause of preventable death. And health is not the only cost of smoking — the average pack-a-day smoker spends more than $2,300 each year on tobacco.

At a glance

• Sign up for MTIP by calling the U-M Health System Tobacco Consultation Service at 734-998-2193 to speak with an MTIP coordinator.
Click here for more information on MITP and the eligible tobacco treatment programs.
Click here to learn about the Smoke-Free Campus initiative.
Watch a video about the health benefits of quitting smoking.

A new MHealthy program provides support for faculty, staff and their spouses or Other Qualified Adults (OQA) who want to quit smoking before all U-M campuses go smoke-free in July 2011.

The MHealthy Tobacco Independence Program (MTIP) offers free counseling focused on ending tobacco addiction. Benefits-eligible faculty and staff that complete a telephone intake questionnaire and a qualifying tobacco treatment program will receive a $100 before-tax incentive. The spouses and OQA dependents of benefits-eligible employees also qualify for the program, and the employee will receive an additional $100 incentive, for a maximum of $200 when both people complete MTIP.

“The program is designed to encourage use of the most successful methods for ending tobacco addiction,” says Linda Thomas, manager of the U-M Health System Tobacco Consultation Service. “Because research shows that the likelihood of success increases substantially when others in the home don’t smoke, we’re providing an incentive for spouses and other qualified adults to also sign up for the MTIP program and make the choice to be smoke-free.”

MTIP includes programs offered through the UMHS Tobacco Consultation Service; the university’s health insurance plans; and StayWell® Health Management, a national provider of health improvement services.

“Depending on which MTIP program you choose, you can participate in person, online or by telephone, whichever best fits your needs and lifestyle to help you stay on track,” Thomas says. “Just call to sign up and our staff will conduct a telephone questionnaire, discuss what programs are available and help you select one.”

“Many smokers tell me they wonder why they should quit now after they’ve smoked for years or even decades and they know that damage is already done,” says Dr. Robert Winfield, chief health officer. “But the future just doesn’t need to be that bleak. There are immediate and positive health effects when you quit smoking.”

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

• Two weeks to three months after quitting, a person’s risk of having a heart attack drops and their lung function improves.

• One year after quitting, the risk of heart disease is half that of a smokers.

• Five to 15 years after quitting, the risk of getting cancer of the mouth, throat, or esophagus is half that of a smoker’s.

• Ten years after quitting, the risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a smoker’s.

• Fifteen years after quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is the same as that of a nonsmoker.

Employees already receiving a $100 incentive for participating in MHealthy Rewards will not be eligible for the MTIP employee incentive; however, they can still receive free counseling and can qualify for the spouse/OQA incentive.