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Supervisor Suggests Mandatory Stop-Smoking Classes for County Employees

Gerry Hyland ponders whether county employees who smoke can be made to take classes to stop smoking, according to news report.

Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerry Hyland is suggesting that the county make it mandatory that employees who smoke take classes to stop smoking, and on Saturday, a county spokeswoman told the Associated Press that the county's attorneys are looking into the idea.

Hyland made the suggestion at a recent county Board of Supervisors meeting, the Washington Post reported.

Hyland's father, who was a smoker, died at age 50 of lung cancer, the AP report said.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has estimated that the cost of smoking (estimated cost of smoking-related medical expenses and loss of productivity) exceeds $167 billion annually.

A Harvard Business Review blog recently pushed the idea that cigarettes should cost $25 per pack, because that's what they're costing the country in hidden medical costs and lost productivity.

Hyland reportedly suggested about 10 years ago that smokers be cut from the county payroll.

Fairfax County pays 85 percent of the cost for employees' individual health insurance coverage, and 75 percent of cost for two-party or family coverage for employees scheduled to work more than 30 hours per week, according to its Web site.

Beginning with the 2010 premiums, the county began paying half that amount for part-time merit employees hired or rehired after July 3, 2009 who are scheduled to work 30 hours or less per week.

The county already offers smoking cessation workshops for employees as part of its LiveWell program, but those classes are not mandatory.

No figures are available on the number of county employees who smoke.

What do you think? Should "stop-smoking" classes be mandatory for county employees who smoke?

Kathy m November 26, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Sorry. This is a stupid idea. If people want to volunteer to take the class fine. But forcing them to? Wrong. Next thing you know they will force people who drink to take Stop Drinking class. Overweight people will need to take mandatory exercise class. If it's legal -- and smoking is legal, the most they should hope to enforce is no smoking on various county properties. I don't smoke, hate smoke -- but I also love my civil liberties. This smacks of too much government intrusion in a person's personal life.
Locally Involved November 26, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Based upon the logic in the article, perhaps we should force county employees to exercise since obesity is the #2 cause of death in America. Seems to me, medical expense would be more greatly reduced if we reduced our weight. 1. Obesity is the #2 cause of preventable death in the United States 2. 60 million Americans, 20 years and older are obese 3. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of health conditions and diseases including: Breast cancer, Coronary heart disease, Type II diabetes, Sleep apnea, Gallbladder disease, Osteoarthritis, Colon cancer, Hypertension and Stroke Now, since I don't see anyone about to propose a law to outlaw being fat, I think it's about time we applied a bit of common sense here. This appears to be an insurer's issue - not a government issue. Smoker's already pay higher life insurance rates and some insurers have a premium increase if a smoker. Perhaps it's time that insurer's also increase rates for those that are overweight. Simple math. If A=B, then B=A. If you want to force people to attend mandatory smoke cessation classes, then force them to attend mandatory weight loss classes. If that isn't possible, it negates both options.

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