University announces tobacco cessation, differential program

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- As one component in the strategic plan to improve employee health and better control health care costs for Penn State and its employees, Penn State officials have announced a monthly surcharge in 2014 for benefits-enrolled employees and their spouse or same-sex domestic partner (SSDP) who choose to use tobacco.

Each November during the regular benefits open enrollment period, employees and their spouse/SSDP will be required to certify that they do not use or are attempting to quit tobacco. A $75 monthly surcharge per tobacco user will apply. Free tobacco cessation programs will continue to be offered to employees and their covered spouses/SSDPs who wish to quit.  

The University is defining a "tobacco user" as someone who has used tobacco more than five times in the previous three months. Tobacco includes cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco or any other tobacco product.

"According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of tobacco is responsible for nearly one in five deaths in the United States, and is the most preventable cause of death in our society," said Susan Basso, vice president for Human Resources at Penn State. "Nationwide, cigarette smoking accounts for at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths. We want to help our employees and their families to be as healthy as possible, and for those who use tobacco, providing them with resources to help them quit certainly will help us accomplish that goal."

More detailed information about the program, including the free tobacco cessation options, will be announced in late August. 

Employees who have questions about this or any of the initiatives are encouraged to contact their human resources representatives, or to contact the Penn State Office of Human Resources at benefits@psu.edu or 814-865-1473.

Employees who are a part of the University’s Teamsters’ collective bargaining agreement will not see any health care benefit changes during the current contract term, which expires June 30, 2014.

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Last Updated August 22, 2013