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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

June 12, 2008

These quitters always win

by Erin Rosacker

July 1 marks the start of the statewide smoking ban passed by the Iowa Legislature earlier this year. The new law banishes smoking virtually everywhere on campus.

Although ISU does not offer employees a smoking cessation program (yet), several resources are available for faculty and staff members who wish to kick the habit.

"We do not have a program yet that has been devised for employees," said Mike Otis, associate director of human resource services.

In the meantime, the University Benefits Committee formed a wellness subcommittee, which Otis said will continue to work on smoking cessation as one of its top issues.

"We've had smoking cessation on our benefits priority list," Otis said. "Based on the passed legislation, we have made it a top priority."

Merit staff options

Merit employee benefits are part of the State of Iowa contracts, which currently offer no medical benefit coverage of smoking cessation. However, employees who opted for the health care spending account can be reimbursed for many over-the-counter smoking aids.

Otis said the Iowa Department of Administrative Services is working on a proposal to address smoking cessation assistance.

ISU plan benefits

The ISU medical plans offer faculty, professional and scientific, and supervisory merit employees several benefits.

Both the Alliance Select (PPO) and Blue Advantage (HMO) programs allow for a physician office consultation related to smoking cessation.

"We've always had an office visit available, but most employees probably didn't realize it," Otis said.

Four prescription drugs (Chantix™, Zyban® and Nicotrol® nasal spray or inhaler) are covered by Medco, with a 180-day supply limit per year. Over-the-counter products are not covered, but many are eligible for reimbursement from the optional health care spending account.

External resources

Several free resources are available to all Iowans, including:

ISU's Thielen Student Health Center offers smoking cessation support groups for students, employees and the Ames community. The eight-week program is $20, with a $10 refund for participants who attend each meeting. More information is available by calling 4-1868, or online.


The human resource services Web site provides information on smoking cessation resources for ISU employees.