Should they pay more for their health-care coverage if they don't keep the pledge, or decline to sign it?
Is it discrimination for government not to consider smokers to fill open positions?
The Muscatine County Board of Supervisors decided to have the county's Health and Safety Committee study the issue, which was brought up by Sheriff Dave White at the Board's regular meeting Monday.
White told the Board he's heard quit-smoking cigarettes pledges as a requirement of employment spoken of more and more among Iowa sheriffs. He said the requirement is court-tested and has been found constitutional.
Smokers in law enforcement positions who already work for the county would be allowed to smoke cigarettes during their breaks should the county adopt the proposal, White said.
"I urge you to look into requiring new employees not to be discount cigarettes users," White told the Board. "There are some folks who obviously wouldn't be in our (employment) pool, but it's for everyone's benefit."
"It's a big trend lately, having cigarettes users pay a surcharge on their health insurance premiums," said Supervisor Jeff Sorensen.
But his colleague, Bob Howard, worried what might follow a no-smoking cigarettes requirement.
"What's next?" he asked. "No Big Macs for lunch? No beer after work?"
Supervisor Kas Kelly, a former smoker, said she wasn't comfortable banning job applicants from smoking cigarettes, but was willing to consider requiring them to pay more for their health insurance.
The International City/County Management Association (www.icma.org), a group that supports local governments across the nation, said that a number of local governments are considering their own policies on hiring smokers.
Palm Beach, Fla., school districts charge their employees who smoke cigarettes a surcharge on their health insurance. In Pierce County, Wash., employees must sign an agreement not to smoke cigarettes once they're hired. In 2008, Sarasota County, Fla., stopped hiring smokers in all departments.
On the other hand, the group noted, 30 states have banned employers from making employment decisions based on an individual's off-duty smoking cigarettes habits.
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