Wegmans Improves Employee Smoking Cessation Program

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Wegmans Improves Employee Smoking Cessation Program


Wegmans Food Markets Inc. and Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) have teamed up to introduce the Quit Club, a smoking cessation program, to all Wegmans employees and eligible spouses who want to kick the habit.

Quit Club participants will have access to the specialized services of RPCI’s tobacco cessation program, including telephone counseling provided by trained coaches, medications, a customized website with interactive informational quit tools, and in-store support. Wegmans will pay the entire cost of the program; employees can join at no charge.

“Quitting smoking is difficult, so it’s very important that we provide the best tools to help them succeed,” said Becky Lyons, director of benefits and wellness at Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans.

“The cessation program provides an effective, cost-efficient, evidence-based approach to improve successful quits and keep people motivated to stay quit,” added Andrew Hyland, chairman of the department of health behavior at Buffalo, N.Y.-based RPCI. “The personalized stop-smoking plan created with a trained Quit Coach, combined with online support, has been documented to increase ability of smokers to successfully quit.”

Concerned by smoking’s effect on health, Wegmans stopped selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in 2008, at the same time, rolling out an initial tobacco cessation program for employees.

“This unique collaboration with Roswell Park will take our efforts to a new level and help our employees access the best resources and services available,” noted Lyons.

In other Wegmans news, the company’s Rochester-based distribution and transportation employees have rejected the contract proposal that was agreed to by Wegmans and Teamsters Local 118, marking the second time the bargaining unit has voted against a proposal during the current round of contract talks. The dispute prinicpally concerns the employees' retirement and health care benefits.

The grocer’s first contract proposal was rejected by the bargaining unit in late September. Negotiations resumed Oct. 11 after the intercession of New York Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, resulting in an Oct. 12 tentative agreement that has now been turned down.

“For months we have bargained in good faith, and frankly, we are frustrated and deeply disappointed,” said Wegmans VP of distribution Mike Cullen. “But we have prepared for every possible outcome. Our stores will remain open for business without interruption” in the event of a strike.

Family-owned Wegmans operates 83 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts.