In order to keep a check on the rising population of smokers, Pima County is mulling over dropping the smokers from hiring process and also imposing fine on workers who do smoke.
A decision in this regard is likely to arrive later this month when the Pima County Board of Supervisors will meet to draft a policy that would deny the hiring of smokers.
The board is scheduled to meet on December 16 to exercise their vote.
The proposed policy would also impose a health-insurance surcharge of 30 percent on employees who continue smoking or consumption of other tobacco products.
The county health officials believe the proposed policy, if passed, could contribute in saving more than USD 1 million health-care costs savings annually.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said the policy would help in increasing savings significantly. The replacement of smokers and tobacco users with healthier workers will be a good indication for the health sector as well as the labor market.
“Our taxpayers pay for our health insurance because we are self-insured. Anything we can do to reduce the cost is beneficial,” Huckelberry said in an interview.
An estimated 32 percent of over 2,300 workers are tobacco users, according to the county health department.
In a memo, the department said that the expenses imposed by tobacco users on the county are USD 13.4 million annually.
According to the policy, the prospective workers would require a note from doctor or a drug test proving them tobacco or nicotine free for at least a year. And the non-smokers with nicotine free status will be eligible for a USD 5 health-care discount every pay period. While the tobacco consumers will be tasked with payment of 30 percent more for their health care premium each paycheck. The policy also includes electronic cigarettes but not nicotine gum or patches.