American Association for Cancer Research

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Team Support for Cessation in the Workplace Helped Motivate Cigarette Smokers to Quit


October 18, 2012

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  • Cigarette smoking remains a leading cause of preventable death.
  • The workplace may be an ideal setting for cessation programs.
  • Rewarding the whole team for success in cessation by smokers in the same team encouraged long-term abstinence.
ANAHEIM, Calif. —When smoking co-workers in the same team are placed on a cessation program, providing financial incentives to the team collectively in return for success of the smokers in the cessation program helped the smokers to quit smoking and remain abstinent for 12 months, according to data presented at the 11th Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, held here Oct. 16-19, 2012.

Sang Haak Lee, M.D., Ph.D., pulmonologist and professor of medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital and the Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine, and colleagues developed a yearlong cessation program that provided financial incentives to a team of 28 health care workers at St. Paul’s Hospital in Seoul, South Korea. The researchers evaluated whether implementing a team approach in the workplace, where the team they belong to is rewarded financially when co-workers who smoke and are placed on a cessation program have succeeded, could improve motivation to quit smoking, increase smoking cessation rates and keep former smokers from resuming the habit.

When the smokers participating in the program remained smoke-free, the team they belong to as a whole received a financial incentive of 50,000 won (about $45) for each successful participant at one week and one month. If the smokers in the team remained abstinent for a longer time period, the team was given a collective incentive of 100,000 won (about $90) for each success of the participant at 3 months and 6 months respectively. The team incentive resulted in increased emotional support on part of the rest of the team members whereas the encouragement from such nonsmoking co-workers created more pressure on smokers to succeed in the program. The researchers awarded money to the teams based on team effort — for how many co-workers the team has succeeded to encourage and support the cessation effort — rather than on individual effort.

Abstinence rates at three, six and 12 months were 61 percent, 54 percent and 50 percent, respectively, according to Lee.

“In terms of efficacy, the abstinence rates were relatively high for a prolonged period in the team-based approach compared with those previously reported,” he said. “We postulated that team-based intervention not only encouraged participants’ motivation to quit smoking within the workplace, but also potentiated maintenance to stay abstinent due to peer pressure and peer support.”

Despite antismoking policy measures introduced in the mid-1990s, smoking is a leading cause of death in South Korea. Likewise, smoking remains the world’s leading cause of preventable death, Lee said.

Although the study was limited by a small number of participants, according to Lee, the researchers believe that this information could be used elsewhere to develop workplace smoking cessation programs.

“Many employees spend the majority of their day in a workplace environment, and the workplace has a number of advantages for smoking cessation intervention,” he said.

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About the American Association for Cancer Research
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 17,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes seven peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the scientific partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration and scientific oversight of team science and individual grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer.

For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org.

Media Contact:
Jeremy Moore
(215) 446-7109
Jeremy.Moore@aacr.org
In Anaheim, Oct. 16-19:
(714) 740-4540