For almost a year the western town of Kokkola has encouraged city workers to quit smoking by offering to foot the bill for all nicotine replacement and drug therapies for up to six months. But so far, only seven city employees have signed on to the campaign, with a cost of 900 euros to the city.
"A disappointingly small number of people have taken us up on the offer," said Eija Pienimäki, personnel director for the city of Kokkola. "Smoking is a risk factor for many diseases and statistically smokers take more sick days."
While enthusiasm for the campaign has been low, results have been good, according Maarit Marttila, an occupational health nurse for city workers.
"Most of the people who began the drug therapy were able to stop smoking. The drug decreases the pleasure people get from smoking, and smokers are able to quit in a shorter period of time," Marttila explained.
In addition to nicotine replacement and drug therapies, the city has also offered individual and peer support groups.
Kokkola previously provided one month's free nicotine therapy supply to city workers trying to quit the habit.
Some 13 percent of men and 10 percent of women in Finland smoke daily, according to the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).