Sheriff’s Office Bans Use Of Tobacco

September 30th, 2009 by

TAMPA | You know that designated smoking area? Kiss it goodbye.

That’s what’s happening at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, where the administration has decided to eliminate all on-campus tobacco use effective Oct. 1.

It is the latest and strictest move involving the ever-shortening leash Tampa Bay area law enforcement agencies are giving their smoking and tobacco-using employees.

Hillsborough jails chief Col. Jim Previtera was the first to send out word to the detention employees. He said the policy is designed to promote wellness, reduce health insurance premiums and eliminate the introduction of tobacco products as contraband into the jails.

“I expected to get a lot of backlash,” Previtera said.

positive feedback

But, at least on LEOAffairs.com, a law enforcement chat room notorious for its merciless, anonymous critiques, most of the feedback Monday was positive.

“Smoke free??” wrote one commentator, “Hooray.”

Smokers are becoming accustomed to the changing rules.

Several years ago, the sheriffs in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando all banned the practice of hiring employees who use tobacco. In some cases, the new edicts also barred existing sworn officers from smoking in public view or in their cars.

But Hillsborough’s decision to eliminate the increasingly expensive tobacco products from agency property stands apart from its neighbors’.

Pasco and Hernando maintain designated smoking areas.

HCSO Chief Deputy Jose Docobo said that in 2005 some affected employees found the new rules motivating. He hopes the same happens this time.

“It served as an impetus for them to make a lifestyle change that they otherwise wouldn’t make,” he said.

But complaints continued.

Over at Orient Road Jail, a patio off the staff dining area was an otherwise attractive spot for nonsmokers to get some fresh air until it became a designated smoking area.

Some employees at Central Operations in Ybor City hated walking through a cloud of smoke from those gathered in the designated smoking spot – a covered area equipped with picnic tables and ashtrays near the rear employee entrance.

Suzanne Yancey, 54, a temporary civilian employee in the Sheriff’s Office records department, sat at one of those tables Monday enjoying a cigarette on one of her two 15-minute breaks.

Yancey has smoked for 40 years.

“Every business has their rules,” Yancey said. “I would just smoke elsewhere.”

other stepsbeing considered

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls tobacco the largest preventable cause of death in the United States, leading to 438,000 deaths annually. It estimates the costs of smoking-related medical expenses and productivity losses at about $167 billion annually.

Docobo said the Sheriff’s Office has considered taking even more drastic action to reduce its insurance costs and improve health agency-wide.

One controversial idea in the “discussion phase,” Docobo said, would result in tobacco-using employees paying more for their health insurance than others.


2 Responses

  1. The Masked Blogger

    If your willing to dodge bullets just to save my dumb blubbery ass, and if sucking on the occasional butt relieves some degree of tension from your stressful and very important job then I have one thing to say to you; will you let me buy you a carton?

  2. Wednesday, September 30, 2009 | Bubba the Love Sponge® Show

    [...] 30, 2009 October 1st, 2009 by Staff Top Stories: teen attacked beaten to death in melee Sheriff’s Office Bans Use Of Tobacco Mom Locked Teen in Closet for Years Laser Lipo Complication Leaves Woman Brain Dead Brawl Breaks [...]

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