Joanna Dodder Nellans
Yavapai County supervisors agreed to a new countywide policy Monday that bans e-cigarettes in county buildings and vehicles.
They also agreed to a new Human Resources Department proposal to require all employee disciplinary action appeal hearings to be open to the public.
A new state law requires such hearings to be public if they relate to certain law enforcement positions, a county Human Resources memo explains. So HR is proposing a single policy that would make all such hearings open. Currently, county hearings to appeal disciplinary actions are automatically closed to the public unless employees ask for them to be public.
The county didn’t get any employee comments about the HR policy changes relating to appeal hearings and e-cigarettes, HR Director Wendy Ross said.
Supervisor Rowle Simmons cited a Sunday New York Times article about how China manufactures 90 percent of the world’s e-cigarettes, aka electronic cigarettes, personal vaporizers and electronic nicotine delivery systems.
The article states that the industry has little oversight, and studies have found tin particles and other metals in e-cigarette vapors that appear to come from the “solder joints” of e-cigarettes.
Supervisor Jack Smith said any kind of smoking in county vehicles could reduce their sale value.
“For me, there’s a zero tolerance on it,” Smith said.
The HR department will continue to work on revisions to a third policy after hearing employee comments, Ross said. A draft would ban the use of electronic equipment while county employees are driving, but it would allow them to use hands-free cell phones.
Ross said she’ll probably bring that draft policy to the supervisors in January.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• Supervisor Chip Davis asked his fellow supervisors to vote against his proposal to donate $4,500 of his district’s park fund money to the City of Sedona to build a wildlife viewing platform at the Sedona Wetlands Preserve, where the city processes and cleans wastewater.
Davis explained that voters apparently don’t want non-essential services since the majority voted in November against doubling the county’s jail sales tax to build a new jail in Prescott.
“I’m going to take the first step and ask that we not honor that” request for $4,500, Davis said. “The citizens have spoken and nothing is sacred.”
• The supervisors approved using the remaining $30,463 in the Yavapai County Water Advisory Committee fund to collect hydrologic data in the Verde Valley.
Most of the remaining money, $27,500, was contributed by municipalities in the Verde Valley.
The committee hasn’t met since the summer, shortly after most of the supervisors said they wanted to dissolve the 15-year-old group. They stopped paying dues and also stopped paying for the committee’s long-time coordinator position.
It was the only organization that brought the county and all its municipalities and tribes together to discuss common issues.
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SIERRA VISTA, AZ – Some facilities on the Fort Huachuca installation will be smoke-free starting next year.
There will be no smoking allowed at medical, dental, soldier and veterinary clinics as of March 1, 2015.
The smoke-free rules are an effort to promote health and wellness among military and civilian employees.
The new policy was created with the help of Cochise Health and Social Services.
Fort Huachuca is the home of the Army’s Intelligence Center.
Courtesy: ABC 15 and The Associated Press
You can’t buy tobacco products anymore at the newly-renamed CVS Health, but you can get the cashier to give you a free pack. While the little red box is shaped like a cigarette pack, that isn’t what’s inside. These packs are available for free, and have coupons and materials inside meant to inspire customers to quit smoking.
Reader Randy reports that cashiers at his local CVS were putting these statements inside customers’ bags.
Behind the counter, cashiers had these free packs, whcih reportedly have at least one generous (CVS-only, of course) coupon for smoking-cessation aids.
What caught Randy’s eye was this warning on the outside of the pack:
CVS pharmacies had originally planned to stop selling tobacco products on October 1, but instead emptied the shelves at the beginning of this month. The chain used to make about $2 billion per year from selling tobacco products, but lawmakers nationwide have been making the case that stores shouldn’t sell smokes alongside medicine.
Click Here to read the article on Consumerist.com
Students from the Trevor Browne High School STAND Coalition met with Phoenix Councilman Daniel Valenzuela and Deputy Parks & Recreation Director Tracee Crockett to discuss their proposal to implement a smoke-free parks policy in Phoenix. Ms. Crockett provided the coalition with some advice to help them move their policy efforts forward.
Northern Arizona University could become a tobacco-free campus.
Members of NAU’s Student Health Advocacy Committee have been meeting with faculty and staff this week to garner support for a policy that would make the Mountain Campus kick the habit.
The committee has been working on a tobacco-free campus policy since 2011, when it sent out a survey asking students what they felt were the biggest health concerns on campus. Currently, smoking is prohibited only in university buildings and university-owned vehicles.
“Tobacco use, cigarette litter and second-hand smoke were all things that they identified as problems,” said SHAC President and NAU senior Kelsey Pruett. “As the Student Health Advocacy Committee, we said, ‘If it’s a problem for the students, it’s a problem for us.’”
What followed were three years of research on the kinds of tobacco-free campus policies that had proved most effective at other institutions.
SHAC members discovered that NAU was the only one of Arizona’s three major public universities without a tobacco-free campus. Other in-state schools, like the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott campus and Maricopa Community Colleges, also had tobacco-free policies.
There are now more than 1,400 campuses in the United States that are either smoke-free or completely tobacco-free.
“We found that, actually, this is kind of a nationwide movement that’s been happening pretty recently,” said SHAC advisor Melissa Griffen.
Under the proposed NAU policy, the use of tobacco products would not be allowed in any university facilities, vehicles, residence halls or outdoor spaces. Cigarettes, e-cigarettes, hookah, e-hookah, chew, snuff, cigars, pipes would be among the prohibited items.
Rather than punishing tobacco users, the policy drafted by SHAC would call for students, faculty and staff to approach anyone seen using tobacco, educate them about the tobacco-free policy and offer cessation resources.
The SHAC students timed how long it would take to walk off campus from any of the smoking hot spots on campus. Even going at a leisurely pace, it took them no more than five minutes.
“Our main goal with this is really just changing the social norms on campus to include healthy lifestyle choices while being on campus,” Pruett said. “If you aren’t seeing people using tobacco on campus, you’re less likely to use it.”
The policy does include a caveat that would allow chronic violators of the tobacco-free policy to face disciplinary action starting in the 2015-2016 school year.
NAU’s Health Promotions Office has conducted at least three surveys gauging attitudes about tobacco use among students. The most recent study found that less than 12 percent of students reported using tobacco products in the past month.
“We have a fairly low rate of tobacco users,” Griffen said.
In each survey, more than 50 percent of respondents said they would support a tobacco-free campus. Several respondents described walking through another person’s smoke at the entrance to a building as an “annoyance,” while others complained about litter from cigarette butts.
SHAC secretary and NAU senior Dani Goettl said in addition to the well-known health risks associated with tobacco use and second-hand smoke, litter and smoke from tobacco products pose an environmental risk to the campus, which is supposed to become carbon-neutral by 2020, according to the university’s Climate Action Plan.
“NAU is beautiful and green and clean,” Goettl said. “We want to keep our campus that way and be known for that.”
SHAC recently brought the tobacco-free policy to President Rita Cheng, whose last job was at a smoke-free campus.
“She was very well-educated on the smoke-free and tobacco-free campuses,” Pruett said.
Cheng said she wanted to get a formal vote or “resolution” from the faculty senate and classified staff. She also wanted an opinion from the Native American cultural center.
In addition, Cheng wanted to see a survey asking every student at NAU whether they wanted a tobacco-free campus.
The Health Promotions Office sent the survey to all student email accounts. It will remain open until Oct. 17. By the end of last week, 2,235 students had taken the survey. Of those students, 55 percent said they wanted NAU to be a tobacco-free campus.
SHAC also collected more than 2,800 student signatures in favor of the tobacco-free policy last semester. Signatures can still be added to the petition in the Health Promotion Office on the NAU campus.
”The (University of Arizona) and (Arizona State University) are much larger in population and campus layout than NAU,” Pruett said. “If it’s successful on that big a campus with that many students, it absolutely can be successful here.”
A proposed draft of the tobacco-free policy, a list of smoke-free and tobacco-free colleges and a list of smoking cessation resources can all be found on the tobacco section of the NAU Health Promotion website at nau.edu/tobacco.
We are beginning our ad participant recruitment efforts for the 2016 Tips From Former Smokers (Tips) campaign and would greatly appreciate your help to broadly share this information. Similar to previous Tips campaigns, we are conducting a national search to identify people who experienced smoking-related health problems and are willing to share their compelling stories.
We have developed the following 2016 Tips campaign recruitment materials and tools we hope you will find useful:
- A letter signed by me with detailed information about our recruitment criteria
- A sample e-mail for use by you and your colleagues (attached)
- Two sample newsletter articles (attached)
- Social media materials
- Two Facebook images and sample posts and tweets (attached)
- Both high- and low-resolution recruitment buttons and banners (attached) that your organization and partners can place on your respective Web sites
- Links to recruitment flyers for the various conditions we are recruiting for, all of which are listed below
For more information, please visit the 2016 Tips recruitment Web site at www.joincdctips.com
Timothy McAfee, MD, MPH
Director, Office on Smoking and Health
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Pima County may soon refuse to hire anyone who smokes. And puffers already on the payroll can expect even higher health insurance rates.
In a proposed expansion of the county’s already-tough anti-tobacco rules, prospective employees would be tested for nicotine as part of the hiring process, according to a memo sent by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.
In the memo, Huckelberry referred to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say smokers cost their employers about $3,400 a year in lost productivity and medical expenses.
“Not hiring smokers is a way to avoid long-term medical costs,” Huckelberry said in an interview.
Huckelberry said the expanded rules would promote a healthier workforce and save taxpayers money on county health insurance costs, especially since the county is self-insured.
About 32 percent of county workers are smokers, according to a risk assessment cited in the memo.
Huckelberry hopes the initiative could go before the supervisors in September or October and, if approved, go into effect in January 2015 or the beginning of the new fiscal year in July 2015, he said.
The new proposal, which still needs to be reviewed by human resources, county employee unions and other groups, would require job applicants to pass a test before they’re hired.
The applicants would have to be tobacco-free for a year before applying for a county job.
County officials do not know how this proposal would affect workers use e-cigarettes, which the Attorney General’s Office just opined are exempt from the rules that restrict smoking tobacco products.
The test would detect cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine that can be found through urine, blood or saliva testing, according to the memo.
Applicants who fail the test could retest 24 hours after the initial screening. Those who fail a second time would not be allowed to apply for a county job for a year.
The newly hired employees would be subject to ongoing testing to make sure they don’t start smoking while working for the county. Current workers who don’t smoke would have to undergo cotinine testing beginning next fiscal year in order to receive a discount on their medical insurance.
If they refuse, the employees would have to pay a 30 percent surcharge for their health insurance. The surcharge would increase by 10 percent each year until it reaches 50 percent, according to the memo.
County officials do not know the exact cost of conducting the test, but it could range from $15 to $50, said county human resources Director Allyn Bulzomi.
The county pays $50 million each year for employee health insurance, while employees contribute about $5 million, Huckelberry said.
The crackdown on smokers began in 2012, when the county Board of Supervisors passed its Tobacco-Free Environment Policy, which prohibits anyone from smoking on county property.
That policy, which was implemented in January 2013, drew the ire of various county departments, with those officials lamenting about where their employees would go for smoke breaks.
Some departments also questioned whether the county could effectively enforce the rule.
The new proposed policy will likely rankle county employees, but Huckelberry said he’s confident any controversy will be short-lived.
The leader of one of the employee unions is already concerned about how the testing process would affect workers.
“How many people do they think are lying, and why does county administration think that?” saidMaya Castillo, president of the Pima Chapter of Service Employees International Union Arizona. “County employees are trustworthy.”
Castillo also wondered if this initiative would lead to other surcharges and rules negatively affecting county employees.
“There is a lot of risky behavior employees can participate in. I’m concerned about that opening the door for other surcharges,” she said. “A part of it is leading to other invasive practices by the county, and that’s concerning.”
Supervisor Richard Elías shared the same concern regarding potential surcharges for other health conditions.
Elías, who supported the 2012 policy, would rather educate smokers and provide support for those who want to quit, he said.
“This is a matter of creating punitive action against people who have a bad habit they can fix,” he said. “It’s right on the border of being a discriminatory hiring practice.”
Contact reporter Jamar Younger at email@example.com or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger