Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo commissioners rethink ban on hiring tobacco users

LARGO — Largo's momentum toward establishing a policy that bans hiring any person who uses tobacco products hit a speed bump Tuesday after commissioners felt the issue was contentious enough to warrant additional time examining the policy's consequences.

Commissioner Gigi Arntzen said the hiring ban was "controversial" and should be dealt with separately from other human resources policies that were unanimously adopted by commissioners.

Those policies included a measure that added bereavement benefits to employees in the event of a death of a domestic partner.

Susan Sinz, the city's human resources director, said instituting a hiring ban for all smokers would save the city in health care costs and improve employee welfare.

Sinz said city staff came to the policy idea after looking at "things that decrease our exposure and help manage potential risks that may be out there."

She added that the city had incurred high costs for claims in the past due to smoking-related claims.

According to the industry publication Corporate Wellness Advisors cited by city staff, U.S. businesses pay $3,391 more per smoker per year in medical insurance costs and lost productivity due to smoking-related ailments such as lung cancer.

Commissioners hinted that some of the questions that will be explored in further discussions about the policy include enforcement.

Sinz said a precedent is already in place, since the city's firefighters and police officers are already contractually bound not to use tobacco products.

No police or fire employee has been suspended for violating the tobacco-free policy since it was adopted in the early 1990s, Sinz said.

While current employees would be exempt from the proposed policy, new hires would be required to sign an affidavit certifying they do not smoke and have not smoked within the past year.

Penalties for violating the no-smoking rule would include a written warning, three- and five-day suspensions, and termination for a fourth violation.

Commissioner Curtis Holmes spoke up against the policy as a "slippery slope" that could lead to other policies that could infringe on employee personal behavior, such as alcohol or food consumption.

"What is the next one? We're going to enforce weight?" Holmes said. "You come in and you're some porker, are we going to deny that, too?"

Dominick Tao can be reached at (727) 580-2951 or

Largo commissioners rethink ban on hiring tobacco users 09/07/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 9:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida education news: Guns, charter schools, drug education and more


    HOSTILE WORK PLACE: A legal review determines that while a University of South Florida technology center former director might have been boorish and hostile, …

  2. Fire crews battle blaze at apartment complex near Seminole Heights


    Fire crews are battling a blaze that broke out early Monday morning at an apartment complex near Seminole Heights, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.

  3. PolitiFact Florida: Claim that 5.7 million noncitizens voted is wrong

    State Roundup

    President Donald Trump's unfounded allegations that millions voted illegally in 2016 is back in the news, with his supporters pointing to a new analysis that claims millions of undocumented immigrants voted in 2008.

    Instances of noncitizens voting have been reported, but evidence points to a small number among millions of votes cast.  
  4. For Fourth of July, an American feast inspired by founding father Alexander Hamilton


    Are there a million things you haven't done? Is one of them throwing a patriotic party inspired by one of the founding fathers?

    Caribbean Pork With Potato Salad makes for the perfect Fourth of July meal.
  5. 'Baby Driver' literally turns heist movie genre on its ear, set to slick soundtrack


    Buckle up for Baby Driver, a movie so full throttle cool that you want to fist bump the screen. Style is the substance of Edgar Wright's inventive heist flick, a fresh, masterful synching of music and getaway mayhem, as if La La Land's traffic jam was moving, armed and dangerous.

    Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver for heist arranger Doc (Kevin Spacey). Plagued by tinnitus, Baby tunes out his distracting “hum in the drum” by listening to music while he drives.
Sony Pictures