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Smoking and Vaping: COVID Makes it an Especially Good Time to Quit

Smoking and Vaping: COVID Makes it an Especially Good Time to Quit

By Monica Bender, RN, BS, CCM, Vice President of Care Management at HealthComp

It’s February. New Year’s resolutions may have come and gone. But if your plan members are among the 34.1 million adults in the United States who smoke, no matter what time of year it is it’s always a good time to consider quitting.

In today’s COVID times, smokers may feel especially compelled to kick the habit, as they have an increased risk of contracting this virus and developing severe symptoms. Consider these risks:

  • The mere mechanism of smoking, in which people frequently touch their hands to their mouths, can enable germs like COVID-19 to enter the body. Smoking also hampers the immune response, which would otherwise help the body fight off an infection.
  • Smoking affects lung tissue and puts an individual at increased risk for pulmonary conditions, such as pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – and COVID-19.
  • WebMD said in one study people who had COVID-19 and were hospitalized with pneumonia found the odds the disease would get worse were 14 times higher for those with a history of smoking.

Vaping Risks

It’s not just smoking. Vaping also puts individuals at greater risk for serious COVID infections. The American Lung Association (ALA) has discussed the dangers of vaping, including an ailment known as popcorn lung. This condition is marked by scarred tissue. It’s prevalent among people who use flavored e-cigarettes, which contain a toxic chemical called diacetyl. Because the lung cells have been damaged, it makes it difficult for them to fight off infection.

It’s important to note that while smoking has decreased over the years, vaping is on the rise, especially among young people.

Support for Quitters

As a nurse, I’ve dealt with the effects of smoking on disease processes for over 20 years, and we’re just beginning to see how COVID-19 will affect the lungs of smokers and vapers. For this and many other reasons, I continue to be an advocate for smoking cessation through education, legislation, and empowering individuals – especially youth – to take a stand against smoking.

Within a given year, more than half of adult smokers may attempt to quit. In 2018, only around 7 out of every 100 people who tried actually succeeded.

Companies that have smoking cessation programs can help their smoking and vaping populations by keeping their cessations programs front and center throughout the year – not just around the New Year or Thanksgiving, when many attempt to quit “cold turkey.”

Quitting is difficult, but a well-structured cessation program can provide the support and motivation members need to successfully kick the habit for good.

HealthComp offers just this type of regimen. Our program is built around sound principles, proven to help millions of others succeed. For example, the program recognizes that certain medications – such as nicotine gum and Chantix – can double or triple the success rate.

The program will help participants identify triggers that often lead them to smoke or vape, such as stress or being around others who engage in the habit. More importantly, the program helps individuals identify heart-felt reasons to give it up, as well as how to build a support system to make it happen. For example, someone might want to quit in order to be healthier so they can spend more time with their grandchildren – this type of individual might have greater motivation to go the distance.

If you’re a HealthComp client and want more information about our smoking cessation program, be sure to contact our Wellness & Disease Management division, 800-775-7247, ext. 2508 or

Chad Harris

Chief Executive Officer


Chad Harris serves as the CEO of HealthComp and is a value-driven healthcare leader with over twenty years of experience running business process and information technology businesses as a senior executive. Chad has a reputation for creating and controlling rapid growth by focusing on the intersection of customers, market dynamics, and the new digital world.


Chad has held many senior executive positions and led global teams of more than 10,000 people across dozens of counties. Chad has grown both large and small businesses, from those with less than $100M of revenue to those producing multiple billions of revenue, focusing on delivery, customer satisfaction, and innovation to create market leadership.


Chad's philosophy is to inspire change by doing what comes naturally, putting the needs of others before his own, working incredibly hard, and focusing on "how" to accomplish things, never "if they can be accomplished."

Thomas Martel

EVP of Partnerships and Strategic Accounts


Tom serves as the EVP of Partnerships and Strategic Accounts at HealthComp. In this role, Tom focuses on strategic initiatives aimed at accelerating HealthComp’s growth nationwide. His passion lies in assessing market and enterprise structures and creating efficiencies that enable teams to deliver best-in-class performance.


Previously, Tom led Cigna’s largest employer segment, largest region which was comprised of several health plans including the two largest health plans. He worked closely with Market Presidents and their leadership teams to develop and execute local market strategy and deliver growth for the enterprise. Tom earned his degree from Saint Anselm College and holds certifications from The Wharton School and the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. In his spare time, he enjoys sailing and holds a Master Captain’s license with the U.S. Coast Guard. He is also active in community outreach programs including local food bank and shelter services.

Sanoj Balakrishnan

Chief Technology Officer


Sanoj Balakrishnan serves as the Chief Technology Officer at HealthComp. In this role, he oversees the company’s overall technology strategy and architecture, building secure and highly scalable distributed systems.


Most recently, Sanoj served as Head of Healthcare Digital Business and Technology at Cognizant, working with payers and providers in developing solutions that reduced healthcare costs and provided a best-in-class experience for members. Earlier in his career, he worked at technology organizations in a variety of software engineering and architecture roles. Sanoj earned his B.S. from University of Mumbai and Computer Systems Management from National Institute of Information Technology.

Justin Tran

Chief Growth Officer and EVP of Product Strategy


Justin serves as the Chief Growth Officer and EVP of Product Strategy at HealthComp. He has 8 years of experience in developing and delivering solutions that reduce health care costs, improve quality, and provide a best-in-class experience for members. Most recently, Justin was an Associate Partner and business unit leader at McKinsey & Company where he helped large carriers and healthcare technology companies build new clinical services and solutions for fraud, waste, and abuse. Justin earned his B.S. in Accounting and Data Informatics from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Tucker Stein

Chief Financial Officer


Tucker serves as the Chief Financial Officer of HealthComp. Tucker previously worked for The Boeing Company in a number of finance and strategy roles, most recently as a finance lead for the Transactions and New Business Development group. In this role, Tucker led investments and strategic partnerships for Boeing’s Space and Communications portfolio. Tucker earned his MBA at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and his Bachelors of Science at the University of Redlands.

Tom Georgouses

General Counsel


Tom is involved in multiple areas of HealthComp including Operations, Compliance and Legal Affairs. Tom was admitted to the California Bar in 1990 and started his legal career with Stammer, McKnight, Barnum and Bailey, LLP. When he left the firm to join HealthComp in 2014, he was the Managing Partner (he had represented HealthComp since 2003). In private practice, Tom’s areas of focus included healthcare and transactional work. Tom holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration-Finance from California State University Fresno and received his Juris Doctorate from San Joaquin College of Law.

Rishab Bansal

Chief Transformation & Operations Officer


Rishab serves as the Chief Transformation & Operating Officer at HealthComp. Rishab focuses on transforming and modernizing HealthComp’s operations to provide delightful and distinctive experiences to its members, providers, and clients. His agenda includes integrating all entities towards a One HealthComp vision, driving profitable growth, and delivering value and business outcomes.


In his former work over the last 2 decades, he has helped clients across industries to transform themselves by bringing industry-leading practices and digital and data-led disruption. As the trusted advisor to the C-suite, Rishab helped his clients leapfrog on their transformation journey to accelerate business outcomes and helped them unlock new opportunities to drive profitable growth, profitability, and enhanced experience for their employees and clients.

Elaine Davis

Chief Human Resources Officer


Elaine Davis is a seasoned executive with deep experience in human resources, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and transformation in large and small companies. Elaine has over 25 years of experience in human resources, marketing and communications in a range of industries that include information technology/business process services, life sciences/medical devices and financial services. Elaine brings focused expertise in governance, leadership coaching, branding and messaging with a focus on supporting female and minority leaders and emerging leadership talent.

Judy Schott

Chief Operating Officer


Judy Schott serves as the Chief Operating Officer and is a customer-focused healthcare leader who transforms operations to simplify the experience and deliver excellence. With deep knowledge of third-party administration, claims, eligibility, customer service centers, and compliance, Judy’s focus will include integrating all entities of HealthComp while driving profitable growth.

Kim Randazzo

Chief Customer Officer


Kim Randazzo serves as the Chief Customer Officer. In this role, she oversees account management for all divisions and HealthComp clients. Kim brings a wealth of strategic experience in account management to the HealthComp executive team, along with a practical understanding of the insurance business and what it takes to be the nation’s leading TPA.

Prior to joining HealthComp, Kim oversaw sales, account management, wellness, marketing, and implementation teams for Gilsbar LLC’s self-funded, association and affinity clients, and worked as an underwriter with Ochsner Health Plan and as an account representative with USI Services, Inc. She has over 26 years of experience in the healthcare insurance industry. A graduate of the University of New Orleans, she received her Bachelor of Science in Management in 1997 and her Master of Business Administration in 2002.

John McGurk

Chief Information Officer


John is a global business, operational, and technical leader with more than 35 years of enterprise IT services experience. He has proven successes in IT strategy and transformations, coupled with successful operating results for Fortune 500 companies worldwide. John has worked for some of the largest IT services firms in the world and has delivered enterprise solutions to the healthcare market for many years. He is a creative problem solver with the ability to work in multiple disciplines and cultures with positive customer outcomes. John is responsible for IT services and Security at HealthComp, supporting all aspects of the business. A graduate of Louisiana State University, he received a BGS in 1992.