Most employees at Flexcon Co., a $100-million specialty-paper company in Spencer, Mass., would rather get money than cancer. Every third Thursday of the month, the company puts $30 gift certificates into the pay envelopes of workers who quit smoking, or who are nonsmokers and stay that way. It also gives $15 certificates to employees who reduce their smoking.

Since the program began last April, 42 employees have kicked the nicotine habit and 17 have cut down -- not bad, when you consider that Flexcon employs only 398 people and only 214 hadn't smoked before the program began. So far, the company has handed out $24,000 in gift certificates, which are honored by more than 50 merchants in town.

"Employees are healthier and more productive," asserts Bob Quintin, data processing manager. Quintin says he is surprised at how honestly employees have reported their smoking. "It's strictly an honor system," he explains, "and we haven't had a single instance where someone ran up to us and said, 'I saw so-and-so smoking his brains out the other day.' We feel it would defeat the spirit of the whole program if we went around peeking through keyholes or relying on a squeal system."

Published on: Oct 1, 1984