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Hyland Suggests Mandatory Stop-Smoking Classes for County Employees

County supervisor 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?

T Ailshire November 25, 2012 at 01:00 PM
I think Hyland should quit attempting to be Mayor Bloomberg, and be encouraging rather than dictatorial. Who the heck died and left him god?
Marie November 25, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Colorado wants to legalize marijana and Hyland wants to fire people who smoke cigarettes? Health care costs for EVERYONE is going to be higher under Obamacare because people who voted for him don't want to work. That's what happens when when the USA is becoming socialist. Why would anyone work for a living when they can get free money, cell phones, etc from the government?
Joe Bagadonuts November 25, 2012 at 05:49 PM
@marie. Your post contains 4 sentences and 4 disparate topics. Do you have a single, salient point to make?
Joe Bagadonuts November 25, 2012 at 05:55 PM
The real point is that smokers' actuarially higher health costs are averaged with mine. Just like the the Fats, the excessive bacon eaters, the people who don't do intensive exercise for 4 hours per week, etc. And my bad habits are averaged with every one else. Doesn't seem fair and equitable. Health insurance premiums are the way to address behaviors (obesity, excessive alcohol, sedentarism, smoking, risky pasttimes, speeding tickets) that predict increased health care costs. Treat health care premiums just like life insurance. But only consider life choice factors. This will avoid the further spread of the Nanny State.
Humbler Acts November 25, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Look, everyone knows that smoking is bad for people--the smokers as well as the folks that hang around them. The myth about smoking is that it does things that it not only doesn't really do but causes the opposite effect. So the sooner smokers are taught in one form or another how they can stop, the better. Unfortunately, after twenty years or more of studying the problem, my opinion is that the programs that are accepted presently by government and medical professionals only help about seven percent of those who want to stop. More programs that are "out of the box" are desperately needed. Not more of the same, but something different. I hope those in charge of helping folks stop smoking have the energy and interest to try out other more creative programs. Good luck! Humbler Acts Creator of THE WIZARD'S OUTRAGEOUS SCHEME FOR STOPPING SMOKING
personal fitness trainer November 25, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Nicotine dependence is an addiction as powerful as any other but many times more deadly. 3 million worldwide and 500 thousand in America die each year. As a culture, we need to get serious about nicotine addiction while being mindful of codependency. I work with seriouly mentally ill people who spend 40% of their SSI checks on the drug. I'm on a mission to ban smoking in my program. I would admit those who smoke with a commitment to quitting within a set period of time, nor would I fire addicted employees. We have drug use policies already, simply include nicotine as a drug.
personal fitness trainer November 25, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Btw, we use cardio, weight lifting, yoga, meditation, smoking cessation, talk therapy, nicotine patch and gum. Look for article in the winter edition of Parktakes.
Janaye M Lawson November 26, 2012 at 01:14 AM
HOW can the Commonwealth, who made money off of tobacco turn around and fired people for being addicted to something they sold to start with... I had a stroke from cigarettes many moons ago, Im so thankful I did, because with the price of cigarettes I couldn't afford it now..but people we live in America, how many more freedoms are they going take from us... Ya'll better wise up...who the hell died and made these people (who were ELECTED to be our employees), our parents??? HELL NO...they should not be able to ask that the county to fire people for refusing smoking classes or stopping...his father died from something he enjoyed...I'm starting to feel like I live in another country, always being told what I can, or can't do...stop the smoke/ and pollutions from factories FIRST, then tell the people how YOU think they should live!!
Gillgal November 26, 2012 at 02:26 AM
It's a slippery slope we are headed for!
Shane November 26, 2012 at 05:17 AM
It is simple. Change laws to include nicotine as a drug. Which it is, by way of addicting and destroying millions of people per year. With the patient affordable care act, there is a distinct incentive to reduce risky behaviors. The two risk behaviors/conditions responsible for the most yearly deaths in the US are obeisity and smoking. Anyone can say they enjoy doing drugs. But when it becomes widely recognized as a socially destructive force, that is when governments take measures to reduce and eliminate the drug use and availability. Notwithstanding the marketing and pr muscle of Phillip Morris, there was a major lawsuit won against the tobacco industry in 1998. We must continue the fight. This is not some recreational chemical. It is a killer of friends, lovers, coworkers, and associates. The tobacco industry, like many industries, has armies of lobbyists and lawyers. But all these people and money cannot cover up fundamental facts- that what is destructive for society must be exposed and dealt with. We cannot forever invite death into our midst.
Isis November 26, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Cigarette companies have for years, and maybe still do, ADD nicotine to cigs to keep people addicted.There is a brand of cigs called Quest with zero nicotine. REQUIRE the cigarette companies eliminate nicotine in cigarettes and no one would continue to smoke. Seriously folks, this is the way to go.
RamsteinB November 26, 2012 at 03:35 PM
So, Shane, why don't you advocate changing the laws to include alcohol as a drug, too? You're wrong if you believe smoking and obesity cause the most deaths per year. Clearly, alcohol use (and abuse) outrank both of those as far as contributing to the deaths of not only users, but also "friends, lovers, co-workers and associates." Get your head out of the sand and let's get serious about alcohol abuse, too! P.S. The Patient Affordable Care Act (why don't you just say, "Obamacare?") in its current form won't do a thing to reduce risky behaviors. You got sucked in like the others!
Filth E. Habbitt November 26, 2012 at 05:00 PM
I'm assuming that the taxpayer foots the bill for smoking cessation classes. What about passing the cost on more fully to smokers? Add a buck-a-butt deposit on a pack of smokes. The outcome either way will be beneficial. Existing smokers might be encouraged to stop due to the rise in up-front costs, and those who dump the contents of their ashtrays in parking lots/drop butts out their car windows, would be encouraged to hold on to their nasty filters to receive their deposits back. Bonus: the disgusting processing of used filters/half-smoked butts by vendors might lead the chain drugstores and other merchants to drop tobacco products entirely.
T Ailshire November 27, 2012 at 12:14 AM
If you decide what factors to include, you're increasing the nanny state, not decreasing it. The same people who decide soda pop is bad will soon decide I can't have a spaghetti dinner because of the carbs, without paying a lick of attention to the fact that almost all foods have a place in a well-thought-out, balanced diet. They attempt to decide whether the four-block walk is long enough, or whether it must be five blocks, without consulting my medical professional. They decide what's a "risky pastime" without regard for one's talents and experiences.'
T Ailshire November 27, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Thank you.
Joe Bagadonuts November 27, 2012 at 02:51 AM
@T A: Actuary based pricing has been used for decades to set individual prices for auto and life insurance. If you've got either type of insurance, you're already experiencing pricing based on life choices. I shouldn't have to subsidize the health care costs of an obese rock climbing smoker with untreated high blood pressure and lots of speeding tickets or DUIs.
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