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Published: Saturday, 11/17/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Sylvania Township breathes easy with its no-smoking policy

BY KELLY McLENDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

So far, no complaints have been received by Susan Wood, Sylvania Township assistant administrator and human resources director, about the township's newly implemented smoking policy.

Under the new rules, smoking is not allowed anywhere on township property, which means an employee cannot smoke in his or her vehicle if it is parked in the lot of a township-owned building.

Ms. Wood said the policy was changed in response to try to encourage employees to live healthier lifestyles.

“There's two major differences into the revision,” she said. “That is, we no longer allow smoking anywhere on township property...the other change in that policy was that because of this, we're not hiring smokers any longer.”

She said when a position opens up in the township, the human resources department will advertise that the township will not hire smokers.

“When we advertise for a position, that's mentioned in the ad. They need to sign a statement, attesting to the fact that they are a non-smoker,” Ms. Wood said. After an offer is made to a potential employee, she said then the township would follow up with testing, to see if the candidate has nicotine in his or her bloodstream.

There have not been any reported complaints from employees or the public, she said.

“It's something we've been thinking about for awhile," she said, noting that it seems like the natural decision to make "if we're going to try to get our employees healthy...”

The township offers a bonus program for healthy lifestyle choices for employees. Ms. Wood thought that the new policy would not impact a large number of employees, either.

“I don't think we have a lot of smokers, but those that we have are pretty hardcore smokers.”

But at the end of the day, she said the health of the employees and the community, is at the core of the change.

“Obviously we want people to be healthy and that in turn results in better attendance, [and] lower health care costs.”

Ms. Wood said was not aware of any other surrounding townships that have administered such a policy, although she did receive an email request from another township, asking about implementation of the change.

"...We do not have a policy in place like Sylvania Township stating we only hire non-smokers," Perrysburg Township assistant to the administrator, Rosanna Violi, said. Cleveland Clinic has adopted a similar policy, but she said none is in place in Perrysburg Township.

Hospitals are among employers now taking smoking bans one step further, and are refusing to hire smokers at all.

A year ago ProMedica, along with St. Rita's Medical Center in Lima, Ohio, became the latest local employers in the health-care industry to shun those who smoke and use other tobacco. Such policies not only set an example for the community, but they also are expected to eventually help lower insurance costs as the overall work force becomes healthier, officials said at the time.

Firms in other fields also have refused to hire smokers, including Scott's Miracle-Gro Co. of Marysville, one employer studied by ProMedica as its policy was formulated.

Tobacco-free hiring has been described by some employers as a way to increase worker productivity, decrease health care costs, and encourage healthier living. Cigarette smoking is estimated to cost the United States $193 billion in lost productivity and healthcare costs, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Contact Kelly McLendon at: kmclendon@theblade.com or 419-206-0356 or on Twitter at @MyTownSylvania.



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