published: Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Policy bans all tobacco on all county property
By ED BALDRIDGE
SEBRING -- Commissioners discussed a new policy Tuesday that bans all tobacco use on all county property including boat ramps, parks, trails and the sports complex, which will roll out in three phases starting Jan. 1 2012.
"It is tobacco free. It does not just cover smoking, it is all tobacco products," said Assistant County Administrator June Fisher told the board.
Phase 1, which includes the downtown Sebring campuses like the Government Center, Courthouse, State Attorney, Public Defender, Government Annex, Facilities Office, the Children's Advocacy and all EMS centers.
Phase 2 also begins on Jan. 1 of 2012, and includes all fire stations, the landfill, all libraries and community centers.
Phase 3, whose roll out date is to be announced, includes all county property like parks, boat ramps and trails.
"How are you going to enforce this?" asked Commissioner Ron Handley.
Fisher replied that enforcement would depend on county employees reporting other employees and violators.
"It is not going to go flawless, there are probably going to be gray areas. But this is the right thing," said Highlands County Health Department Administrator Robert Paluszak.
The policy also forced potential county employees to sign an affidavit stating they have refrained from tobacco use for up to a year prior to applying to the county.
Fisher even discussed other counties that drug test for tobacco use prior to applying for a county position.
Commissioner Don Elwell took exception with that section of the policy.
"I think this section is unnecessary," Elwell said. Elwell further argued that the new policy could "severely limit" the county's application pool for employees.
"We are trying to enforce actions before they are even employees," Elwell added.
"The idea behind that policy is to improve the risk pool of your insurance policy," County Attorney Ross Macbeth told the commissioners.
Macbeth clarified further that the if an applicant was tobacco free for up to a year before applying for a county position, then that would lower the county's insurance costs over time.
The policy further states that the county will provide tobacco cessation programs to the employees who request it, and the health departments are currently offering free nicotine patches and a five-week cessation program at no cost for the public.
smoking (by: just sayin - 12/26/2011)
Rumor has it, that one day a certain commissioner was walking into the government center via an employee entrance which was beside a designated smoking area out of public view, and she got all bent out of shape because she chose to walk through a couple of employees smoking during their break time.
Freedom (by: The Cowboy - 12/26/2011)
What time can I take a crap?
Half-right (by: Shutt - 12/26/2011)
While the outright ban on smoking and tobacco use is ludicrous, prohibiting new hires from being tobacco users is perfectly acceptable.
Art, Art, Art... (by: Ray Napper - 12/25/2011)
Now you know as well as I do that had you not been introducing all that co2 into your brain you would be rich and famous.
Tobacco Use (by: Les - 12/25/2011)
This is another case of Government overstepping their purpose. Freedom of choice, is granted by our Creator and cannot be taken away by a ruling class. I smoked for many years and then quite, but that was my choice not a edict from a Dictator. Ms. Fischer, Mr. Paluszak and Mr. McBeth are forcing their views on me and every other county resident. Shame on them!!
Smoking (by: Voter - 12/24/2011)
But I can have a gun in my pocket with a CCW, but by God.......dont lite up.
Smoking (by: marty4 - 12/24/2011)
While I agree with smoking is bad for you and it is a major health concern. I disagree with taking away my freedom of choice. While I don't plan on getting a job with the government. I have to wonder where is it going to stop? It seems that America in general is trying to control our freedom. It seems that we all should look like Clones and all believe in the same ideas, if we are to live here happily and legally. Why don't they just go ahead and have 666 tatooed on our foreheads and get it over with? Maybe I have been a little over dramatic with the smoking issue. But, as I said where is it going to stop?
Terrible (by: Libertarian Revolution - 12/23/2011)
This is nothing more than "Big Local Government" restricting our freedom. We need LESS government, LESS regulation, LESS government intrusion in our lives. What are they going to ban next? Pretty soon they are not going to have any candidates for ANY employment positions. The Government whether Federal, State, or Local needs to be dismantled by at least 80%. Wake up people and make a change before it is too late.
What's Next - Fat People? (by: SavEcig - 12/23/2011)
Banning the use of a legal product for one year prior to applying for a job with the county...just to reduce their insurance costs? Makes sense. They should stop hiring those obese people because everyone knows it's their own lack of control that got them into those XXXL Pants. You know who else really racks up the insurance bills is Diabetics...always taking breaks to prick their fingers in stead of working. And those crazy people, depressed people, and those normal people with disabled kids - realy make the insurance cash register ring. And those people that want to go from Jackie to Jack or want to be switched from Frank to Fantasia...I know they can't help it, but those operations are pricey. Just think how much money could be saved.
Smoking (by: Spectre - 12/23/2011)
County Commissioners.......Each and every one of you need to seriuosly re-think this policy. You have over-stepped your bounds and have gone too far. Too mnay in this county (voters), I'm sure they feel that you have committed political suicide. Even non-smokers are now second-guessing the wisdom of their county leadership. If you make decisions such as this, there's a lot of us wondering what the next infringement on our rights will be. Just leave the no-smoking policy as it was before this new policy came up for discussion.
What about the other "unhealthies" (by: fit and trim smoker - 12/23/2011)
OK. great. But hopefully you will be doing the same banning on the 300 pound employee with McDonalds shoved in their mouth too. Because if they arent an insurance risk, I don't know what is!
What's next (by: Art B - 12/23/2011)
If they accept this THEN all county employees must quit smoking and better yet----quit dipping( which I find more offensive than smoking---all that spitting). YEP good luck with that!
Ban the sale of tobacco (by: E C Aubin - 12/23/2011)
Why not ban the sale of tobacco products while they are at it.Oh wait aminute ---tax revenue!!!
Place this term in a search engine (by: Ray Napper - 12/22/2011)
"pre-employment no tobacco" and look at the results. It would appear that this is very wide spread among both government and private businesses.
Government Controls (by: VJElliott - 12/22/2011)
The Sebring Commissioners have no right to enact laws regarding "the great outdoors" - Who do they think they are enacting laws about what the public can and cannot do while in public air? Really, haven't they anything better to do?
Rights (by: Just Wondering - 12/22/2011)
Are you serious? What has happened to peoples rights? I understand the health issues for I am currently a smoker. I also know that we should respect the ones that don't smoke. I also understand this is a Control issue with our County throughout HIghlands County and the places of employment for County, State, Govt. and Federal jobs. But testing someone for smoking prior to being hired at a job!! Now that is reaching way out there. So my suggestion is this: Make Smoking ILLEGAL and also make DRINKING Alcohol ILLEGAL!! That will be the solution to all of this. This way there won't be Drunks out on our Highways killing others families and there won't be no more complaining about Smokers. So do us all a favor and make both Smoking and Drinking Alcohol ILLEGAL. Enough of nit picking and seeing how to Control the peoples lives. IT is all about CONTROL!!
Tobacco liars. (by: Jeff - 12/22/2011)
Do they really think this will make people quit smoking or dipping that have done so most of their lives? No way. It will just make liars out of those people who do use tobacco (on a regular basis). How is this going to be enforced? Writing up an employee, issuing fines, suspension? Good luck with this BOCC. More wasted tax dollars.
Where does it stop? (by: SebringBob - 12/22/2011)
All of the roads and sidewalks are also considered county property. Good luck if you are smoking in your car when you are pulled over and ticketed.
More waste (by: Concerned - 12/22/2011)
Another example of the time and money wasted at the county level of government creating policy that will probably yield another wave of employee related lawsuits in the future...
What Next (by: Espo - 12/22/2011)
I think anbody who tells even one on the job lie in the last 12 month should be fired too. OPPS there goes everybody in our govt. & workforce !!!!!!
What next? (by: gt40bear - 12/21/2011)
First, let me say that NO ONE hates smoking more than I. My son has no grandparents because of tobacco, however, last I checked it is still a legal substance. Great, so our "Republican" commissioners have entered the social engineering arena, so what's next. I've got it, imagine how much better every aspect of society would be if no one drank alcohol! Then we can move on to those who stuff their pie holes with fast food. How about those of us who drive too fast, we're dangers to ourselves and others right? Just imagine how much insurance rates would drop if we all drove smart cars that would top end at 45 mph. Be carefull l what you wish for people.
Smoking Policy (by: Spectre - 12/21/2011)
Looks like 1984 just arrived a little later here in Highlands County. The enforcement part is what I question. The BOCC expects employees to rat out their fellow employees. Oooooohhhhhh this is going to get real good not too far down the road. You have a friend that wants a job with the county so you make up a story about a current employee saying he/she was seen smoking in order to contribute towards that employee being eventually terminated. This new ordinance/policy is going too far and the BOCC is way out of line here.
Ok what's next? (by: djkitty - 12/21/2011)
I understand the need for insurance cost limits, but what's next? If you are applying for a county job you can't have drank alcohol for the twelve months prior because it rots your liver and causes auto accidents? You can't have a big mac within the last twelve months because it raises your cholesterol and makes you fatter, therefore causing an increase risk for diabetes and heart disease?
I guess by the same one they use for (by: Ray Napper - 12/21/2011)
education requirements and the need to pass a pre-employment medical exam. They are attempting to lower the cost for insurance among the employees. The costs continue to rise and people continue to say they want lower taxes. What would you have them do differently Tom? I would think they would welcome any positive suggestions that people could make.
Tobacco Use (by: tom walsh - 12/21/2011)
How would any test tell that an applicant did not use tobacco more than a few days ago, let alone 12 months ago. Just because someone says they quit 12 months ago does not mean that it's true. Pure idiocy on the part of our lawmakers.
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