The city of Dayton, Ohio, is taking unusual measures to create a healthier environment for its workers.
It has implemented a policy that prohibits city employees hired after July 15 from using nicotine or tobacco. Job candidates will be tested during the screening process, and those who test positive must undergo cessation treatment. If they again test positive at the end of their probationary period, they’ll be fired.
The city defines tobacco and nicotine use as “inhaling, exhaling, burning, vaping, any lighted cigar, cigarette, and e-cigarette or pipe, chewing or any other type of tobacco use.”
There will be no random testing for nicotine or tobacco. Active employees hired after July 15 will be tested only for “reasonable suspicion.”
An employee who tests positive for nicotine or tobacco must undergo treatment to help them quit, or else they could be reprimanded or fired. A second positive test results in immediate dismissal.
“It is the policy of the City to provide a safe, healthy, smoke-free and tobacco-free work environment for all employees and citizens visiting our facilities,” says the policy, signed by City Manager Shelley Dickstein.
“The City of Dayton (City) has a vital interest in maintaining a healthy and safe environment for its employees and visitors, while respecting an employee’s individual choice. Consistent with these concerns and with Ohio law, the following policy has been established to foster a healthier workplace and environment by encouraging employees to promote a healthy lifestyle.”
Officials began researching the concept of smoke-free workplaces through the city’s Be Well Program in 2012, with a goal of implementing the concept in five years. Union representatives were consulted and many of their suggestions included, the city says.
Dayton officials believe that there won’t be significant recruitment issues because of this policy, but union leaders aren’t so sure.
Jerome Dix, acting president of the Dayton Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 44, says that union leaders have been part of the discussions regarding the policy but that there have been a number of disagreements with city officials on the subject.
He said the policy may violate union contracts and affect active members.
“We understand why they’re doing this, to curb the detrimental cost smoking has on health care, and we understand their mentality,” Dix said. “But it’s going to really hurt our recruiting efforts.”
The city says its goal is to promote a culture of wellness, and the policy is expected to reduce health-care costs.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death. More than 7 million people die every year due to tobacco use, and cigarette smoke is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths every year in the United States alone.
More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases and diabetes.
Smoking is also costly: The United States spends nearly $170 billion on medical care for adults because of it.