As a world-renowned university with vital roles in preserving and improving life, UAB has a responsibility to be among leaders in health and wellness initiatives. Beginning in 2016, employees enrolled in a UAB medical plan who declare themselves nicotine users will incur $50 monthly surcharge.

It has become a growing trend nationally both in large corporations and within higher education to institute surcharges for nicotine users. According to the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans 2014, 30-40 percent of other large employers have introduced some type of tobacco or nicotine premium charge; for example, Alabama Public Education Employees’ Health Insurance Plan (PEEHIP) has already instituted a similar policy.

According to research released in 2013 by the Ohio State University’s School of Public Health, the average cost to an employer per smoker is $5,816 per year. The faculty and staff of UAB’s Benefits Committee unanimously recommended the surcharge in an effort to help offset higher health care costs of nicotine users and incentivize healthy choices among UAB’s most important asset—its people.

“UAB is dedicated to encouraging and ensuring a healthy environment and lifestyle for all of its employees,” said Meg Baker, director of UAB Employee Wellness. “The implementation of the UAB nicotine surcharge is in keeping with the actions of other higher education institutions and large corporations, and we are excited to join the ranks of employers committed to helping their employees live the highest quality of life possible.”

During this year’s active Open Enrollment, UAB faculty and staff enrolling in a UAB medical plan must declare whether they are a nicotine user, and the fee will be assessed accordingly. Cessation resources and discounted products are available to UAB employees; as part of the UAB employee benefits packages, nicotine cessation products are available at no co-pay with the annual limit of two 12-week cycles of treatment. If nicotine users would like the $50/month surcharge discontinued, they must sign up for one of the two cessation courses below by January 31, 2016, and successfully complete the course following sign-up.

  • The UAB Employee Assistance and Counseling Center offers four free nicotine counseling sessions, either in one-on-one or group sessions. Contact the EACC at 205-934-2281 or find more info at
  • The Alabama State Quitline offers free coaching and a personalized quit plan, a five-call program one time per week, a completion certificate, and eight weeks of free nicotine patches based on eligibility. Contact the Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or find more info at
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