Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Largo rejects employee smoking ban

LARGO — City leaders unanimously voted against a policy to ban on-the-clock smoking for city workers.

But the decision at Tuesday night's City Commission meeting wasn't based on all-out disapproval. At least four of the seven-member city commission support such a policy. Most, however, felt the proposed resolution needed to be retooled. They directed city staff to tweak it and bring it back later.

The current proposal would prohibit employees from smoking on city property or using tobacco during work hours. Workers still could light up on their lunch breaks.

It also would give a hiring preference to nonsmokers.

Susan Sinz, the city's human resources director, said a tobacco-free workplace could save the city money. Largo has about 900 employees, nearly 120 of whom smoke, she said.

"Most importantly, it is a long-term policy decision in order to reduce costs. All of the health conditions related to smoking cost a lot of money," Sinz said before the meeting.

She told commissioners that the city had 26 catastrophic claims two years ago, about a third related to smoking.

Commissioners Woody Brown, Gigi Arntzen and Harriet Crozier said they supported the on-the-clock ban, but opposed a hiring preference.

Brown said it likely wasn't necessary because banning smoking would discourage smokers from applying.

Mayor Pat Gerard said she was in favor of the bulk of the proposal, including the hiring preference.

"It's about how much we're all going to save on our health premiums because we don't hire people that smoke," she said.

Commissioner Curtis Holmes and Vice Mayor Robert Murray opposed the policy.

Holmes, an ex-smoker, said it seemed draconian.

"We're basically regulating their personal life while they're on the job," he said.

Murray said he was not convinced about savings and felt it unfair to put an extra burden on workers taking home less money. No raises are proposed in next year's budget.

Tobacco-free policies are common with law enforcement and fire departments in Pinellas County, Sinz said. Largo has had such a policy for police and firefighters since the early 1990s.

But such bans are not common for rank-and-file workers in Pinellas County, Sinz said.

In October, Clearwater banned workers from smoking during work or on city property. Several years ago, South Pasadena imposed a similar ban and stopped hiring smokers.

Neither St. Petersburg nor Pinellas County has such a policy.

Largo rejects employee smoking ban 05/03/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 3, 2011 11:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  2. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  3. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  4. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  5. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin


    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]