Pasco proposes smoking ban for new employees
Pasco County, Florida -- According to the health department, the percentage of adult smokers in Pasco County is on the rise, up to 26 percent, now that's compared to only 19 percent statewide.
That, along with rising health care costs, has Pasco looking for solutions.
The proposed anti-tobacco policy would affect newly hired County employees who would have to sign an affidavit stating they have not smoked for one year and will continue to not smoke through their employment.
"I agree with it because my father died from smoking cigarettes and I think it would be to their benefit," says Pasco resident Lois White.
"Well you have to bring healthcare costs down and you have to save taxpayer money," says tax collector Mike Fasano, who is on the county health committee and supports the idea. "As we have healthier employees it will help reduce the cost and the cost being incurred by the taxpayers."
Some 2,000 current employees will be grandfathered in and still be able to smoke just not on county time. Not everyone feels the ban for new employees is fair.
"That's ridiculous. You know, the government sells the cigarettes or they tax us on them, people pay taxes on them they should be able to work and smoke cigarettes," says Pasco resident George Hold.
According to the proposal, if someone is caught smoking they could be subject to nicotine testing and then disciplinary action, including termination.
The Board of County Commissioners told staff to research other counties similar policies and bring it back at a later date. If the policy is approved, it would go in effect Oct. 1.