Saturday, December 6, 2014

As Ky., other states debate smoking bans, Ariz. county considers ban on hiring smokers, penalizing employees who smoke

Smoking bans for public places are still the subject of debate in Kentucky and many other places, but the Arizona county that contains Tucson may take the war on tobacco to a new level, refusing to hire smokers.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Dec. 16 on a proposal that "prevents the county from hiring smokers and slaps a 30 percent health insurance surcharge on employees who do smoke or use other tobacco products," Mariana Dale reports for the Arizona Daily Star. "County health officials predict the new policy could save the county more than $1 million annually on health-care costs as tobacco-users retire and are replaced with healthier workers. . . . Pima County estimates 32 percent or 2,304 of its current employees are tobacco users and they cost the county about $13.4 million each year, according to a memo from the Health Department."

Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor of public health at Boston University and an advocate of smoke-free workplaces, "says a ban on employee tobacco use in their personal life goes too far," Dale reports.