The Board of Health of Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County has passed a new policy that will significantly reduce the use of tobacco by Public Health employees.
Board of Health president, Patricia Meadows, explained, “Over recent years, Public Health has taken a leadership role in our community by stressing the need for healthier lifestyles in order to reduce the many chronic illnesses that are killing us.” “We are proud of the difference we have made,” she said.
After considering the impact of smoking and the use of tobacco on Public Health employees, the Board chose to take actions and implement new policies that will reduce the incidence of chronic diseases, lower long-term health-related expenses, and continue community leadership regarding the promotion of healthy lifestyle choices.
Beginning January 1, 2014, applicants for employment with Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County will not be considered if they use nicotine or tobacco. If an employee is hired after January 1 and there is reasonable suspicion that the employee is not abiding by the non-use policy, they will be subject to mandatory testing.
Current Employees and Officials as of January 1, 2014:
Current employees and program contractors shall not use nicotine/tobacco products while on duty or on paid administrative leave. Individuals have until April 1, 2014 to comply with this provision. Those who use tobacco will be encouraged to participate in cessation programs sponsored by Public Health, or other approved programs.
Current Board of Health members, members of the executive team, Smoke-free Ohio inspectors, tobacco cessation specialists, and asbestos inspectors shall not use nicotine/tobacco at any time. They have one year to be in compliance with this provision.
In order to obtain a promotion, individuals who are not nicotine/tobacco-free must agree to participate in approved cessation programs every six months until they are nicotine/tobacco-free.
In a related issue, the Board of Health also passed a policy requiring anyone holding the position of Health Commissioner to exhibit lifestyles consistent with actions that prevent chronic disease and early death. This includes being tobacco-free and having a healthy body-weight.
A recent study by The Ohio State University College of Public Health found that companies pay almost $6,000 extra per year for each employee who smokes. If an agency or organization, for example, can change 25 smoking employees to 25 non-smoking employees, that amounts to a savings of around $150,000/year. Over a short time frame of a mere 5 years, that would amount to a savings of around three/quarters of a million dollars. For governmental organizations, that is a substantial savings of taxpayer dollars.
Montgomery County Health Commissioner Jim Gross is challenging other Montgomery County organizations to review their own internal policies related to lifestyle issues. Gross notes, “All of our internal policies need a review from time to time.”
Commissioner Gross stressed that both new Public Health policies are intended to provide leadership by example for other organizations in our community. “We believe,” explained Gross, “that the results will be a healthier workforce, reduced medical expenses for our employees, and a better quality and longer life for many.”