Ohio city plans to ban employees' tobacco use - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Ohio city plans to ban employees' tobacco use

MARION, Ohio (AP) - An Ohio city plans to snuff out tobacco use among its employees.

Officials in Marion say they plan to prohibit the city's 350 workers from smoking and chewing tobacco when they're on the clock. They also say they'll ban tobacco use on all city-owned properties, including parks. The changes are expected to start Jan. 1.

The city - about 50 miles north of Columbus - already won't hire anyone who admits to smoking or chewing tobacco. Officials tell The Columbus Dispatch that they want healthier employees and lower insurance premiums.

"We are using taxpayer dollars and we are taxed with the responsibility to reduce our costs any way we can," City Safety Director Tom Robbins said. "The added benefit is that we'll end up with healthier people."

Robbins told The Dispatch about 20 percent of city employees smoke or chew tobacco.

Some of those employees aren't happy with the proposed ban. The firefighters' union is researching whether the changes would violate its contract with the city.

William Lucius, president of the local firefighters union, says Marion firefighters work 24-hour shifts. That translates into a long time without a smoke break - compared to other eight- and 10-hour shifts that have unpaid breaks built in.

"Most of our people understand that smoking is not the healthiest thing to do," said Lucius. "We believe our situation is different, and we just want to sit down and talk about it like reasonable people."

--- Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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