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In a First, Flagler County Will Prohibit Legal Tobacco Use On and Off the Job For New Hires

| August 23, 2013

More employee liberties up in smoke. (Steven Duong)

More employee liberties up in smoke. (Steven Duong)

In the largest expansion of an employer’s powers of policing private conduct since the spread of drug-free workplaces began 30 years ago, the Flagler County Commission voted unanimously to require that all new hires be tested for nicotine and prove that they’ve been smoke-free for at least a year, starting Oct. 1.

It is the first time a local government has made new employment conditional on the prohibition of use of a legal substance, though numerous governments and private employers, including the Florida Hospital system, are increasingly taking the same approach. The Flagler County School Board and Palm Coast are looking at the county’s policy closely and may follow suit.

“We haven’t talked about it yet, but yes, it is a trend,” Palm Coast Mayor Jon Netts said this morning on WNZF’s Free For All Friday. “Like the county we have our own health insurance that we contribute to, and anything that adds cost is not a good thing for the city and the city’s taxpayers, so I’m looking forward to see how well this works at the county.” The city has already tackled legal products such as flavored tobacco and cracked down on synthetic marijuana,  though without going so far as to prohibit its employees from using either.

“I could piggy-back on that as well from the district’s point of view,” Assistant Superintendent Jacob Oliva said, “as we’re stepping into the self-insurance arena. I’ve seen other municipalities and corporations implement similar policies because of that reason. I’ve even heard of people having to wear pedometers and record the number of steps they take every day to try to save on insurance. I don’t know if we’re going to go that far.”

Current employees are not affected by the county’s policy, which may lead to such situations as a new hire who quit smoking to be an employee being supervised by someone who takes a break to smoke. Even smoke-free applicants who live among smokers could theoretically be affected by the county’s prohibition, because their nicotine test could show the presence of nicotine from second-hand smoke. They would still be prevented from winning a job. Prospects will be required to sign an affidavit saying they’re smoke-free (see the affidavit below). For recent smokers actively in a cessation program, “we would take that in consideration,” Joe Mayer, the county’s human resources director, said.

The prohibition, however, can only be enforced so far, and is likely to lead to chronic dishonesty. Nicotine exits the system within eight hours, and evading a tobacco test is very easy.

Monday’s 5-0 vote included those of Nate McLaughlin, Frank Meeker and Charlie Ericksen, who are frequent critics of government overreach.

“Back in 1981, I lost my dad,” Ericksen said. “He was 60 years old. He’d literally smoked himself to death. That’s one reason why I never smoked.”

Ericksen nevertheless had some concerns about the parameters of the policy. He wondered if a smoke-free prospect could be affected by second-hand smoke—whether nicotine would show up in that individual’s tobacco test.

“It is possible,” Mayer said, though a county health department specialist said that will not be the case.

The testing would be conducted as part of the drug testing that already takes place with prospective employers. The tobacco test adds $5 to the cost, borne by the county. If it comes back positive, the prospective employer has the right to file a written appeal disputing, and explaining, the results. The prospect would then be informed of the county’s decision. The county does not explain how it would make such determinations, leaving a window open to subjectivity well beyond the tests’ relatively objective standard. While the appeal is taking place, the county is under no obligation to keep the job vacant. A prospect who fails a tobacco test and loses an appeal may not apply for a job at the county for another 12 months.

“The wellness committee has been working with our employees and with the group for a little over a year now on a wellness incentive, and tobacco use is one of our targets,” Mayer said. The county has several tobacco-cessation programs in effect to help existing employees get off tobacco.

“We don’t want to just beat anyone over the head, we just want to help them become healthier,” Theresa Williams, the Flagler County Health Department’s tobacco specialist, said.

Carl Laundrie, the county spokesman, noted that tobacco use carries $96 billion per year in direct medical costs to society, and $96.8 billion in lost productivity, through sickness, absentee rates, time spent on smoke breaks, and so on. The figures are taken from a study looking at numbers between 2000 and 2004, and released by the Centers for Disease Control in 2008.

But the same calculus can be applied to other health problems common in the United States, and that have a direct effect on employee productivity, but that are not addressed by employment policies nearly as aggressively as tobacco. The CDC points out that diabetes’ societal costs are nearly $174 billion a year, that “people with diagnosed diabetes, on average have medical expenditures that are 2.3 times higher than what the expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes,” and that diabetics have a health related absenteeism rate that 0.8% higher than people without diabetes. But there’s no move afoot to regulate the private lives of diabetics. Smoking and diabetes numbers pale in comparison with those associated with obesity, which costs employers $93 billion a year in health insurance claims alone, according to the CDC.

Courts have generally endorsed the right of employers and governments to impose smoke-free environments. Courts have also signed off on governments requiring that government-subsidized homes, such as public housing, be smoke-free. But case law is far more scant regarding employers’ rights to extend the prohibition to private conduct in private homes or beyond workplaces and public grounds.

“There is no court cases that say we can’t do it. Our authority is derived from the state statute that governs the testing of drugs and so on,” Al Hadeed, the county attorney, said. “This question has not been to my knowledge squarely presented to a court to decide.”

 


In some states, such as California, privacy laws forbid employers from extending prohibitions to employees’ private conduct, as long as that conduct is legal. In other words, an employee may be fired for having a drunk driving conviction, but not for getting drunk at a party. Florida has a privacy provision in its state constitution.

What prevailing case law exists in Florida appears to supports one part of Flagler County’s policy, but not another.

The case dates back to a 1995 Florida Supreme Court decision that dealt directly with a prospective government employee having to sign an affidavit affirming she’d been tobacco-free for at least a year. Arlene Kurtz was applying for a clerk typist job with the city of North Miami (which also self-insured). The difference with Flagler County’s policy is that in North Miami, an employee was free to start smoking again after being hired, and would not be subjected either to tobacco tests or to the risk of being fired if found smoking. In Flagler, the requirement is that the employee remains smoke-free for the duration of employment.

The Supreme Court found that there was no privacy intrusion in asking a prospective employer about his or her smoking history. “Given that individuals must reveal whether they smoke in almost every aspect of life in today’s society,” the court ruled, “we conclude that individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the disclosure of that information when applying for a government job and, consequently, that Florida’s right of privacy is not implicated under these unique circumstances.”

But the court made this just as clear: “Notably, we are not addressing the issue of whether an applicant, once hired, could be compelled by a government agency to stop smoking. Equally as important, neither are we holding today that a governmental entity can ask any type of information it chooses of prospective job applicants.”

In his dissent, Justice Gerald Kogan called the anti-smoking “rather more of a speculative pretense than a rational governmental policy,” because it allowed employers to smoke again once hired. “Therefore I would find it unconstitutional under the right of due process.”

He then squarely addressed the privacy issue as “more troublesome, to my mind. There is a ‘slippery-slope’ problem here because, if governmental employers can inquire too extensively into off-job-site behavior, a point eventually will be reached at which the right of privacy under article I, section 23 clearly will be breached. An obvious example would be an inquiry into the lawful sexual behavior of job applicants in an effort to identify those with the “most desirable” lifestyles. Such an effort easily could become the pretext for a constitutional violation. The time has not yet fully passed, for example, when women job applicants have been questioned about their plans for procreation in an effort to eliminate those who may be absent on family leave. I cannot conceive that such an act is anything other than a violation of the right of privacy when done by a governmental unit.”

Kogan concluded that the prospective employer’s right to privacy was breached if “The sole question is whether the government may inquire into off-job-site behavior that is legal, however unhealthy it might be.” (See the full decision and Kogan’s dissent here.)

But the question of whether a government employer may ban an employee from smoking outright has not been addressed by the court.

Ky Ekinci, the co-owner of the Humidor Cigar Bar and Lounge at Palm Coast’s European Village, and a cigar smoker himself, had no issues with the county’s new policy, even if it were to reduce business at his shop.

“Even though we own a cigar lounge and we encourage the culture of smoking cigars both myself and my partner Mark [Woods] are anti-smoking, and we do not bundle cigar smoking in the same category as cigarette smoking,” Ekinci said. “I know it’s controversial, but we wholeheartedly support any anti-smoking campaign.”

He said it’s a big-picture matter: society should be healthier, and all efforts aimed at that goal should be supported. The difference between cigars and cigarettes, he says, is addiction. Cigares are not addictive, Cigarettes are. Ekinci—who also owns Palm Coast’s Office Divvy—speaks from experience. He’d never smoked until he was 35. He wanted to try cigarettes, because he didn’t want to get too old before having the experience of cigarette-smoking. He thought he’d do it for a month. It took him three years to quit. “There is no way to smoke cigarettes responsibly,” he said, which is why he supports the county’s new policy. “I don’t have any problem with the new policy, I really don’t.”

But if Flagler County or Flagler Beach have any ideas about banning smoking on the beaches, that call is not theirs to make. “The state has pre-empted our government’s ability, all local governments’ ability, to enact such regulations that prohibit smoking,” Hadeed, the county attorney, said. “It’s a power that the state has taken away from local governments and placed in the hands of the Legislature.”

Flagler County Anti-Smoking and Tobacco Policy

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50 Responses for “In a First, Flagler County Will Prohibit Legal Tobacco Use On and Off the Job For New Hires”

  1. Charles Gardner says:

    What’s next, whole milk, butter and red meat? Is there an alcohol policy?

  2. jm1170 says:

    Home of the free huh? The government keeps taking away our rights to choose how to live our lives. Maybe they should start testing for sugar in the blood. Quit hiring people who are obese and people who have diabetes. Tell the government to quit poisoning our food and stop poisoning us with readily available processed food that is cheaper. And what does big tobacco say about this? Keep raising the unemployment rates! Way to go!

  3. jm1170 says:

    And cigars are not addictive? What proof does the owner of a cigar shop have of that statement? Do cigars contain nicotine? YES! Nicotine is addictive!

  4. Sgt Saber says:

    Perhaps later this year they can stop their employees from drinking alcohol at home. And then maybe stop them from eating at McDonalds at lunch. Or perhaps stop them from owning a firearm………..Once you go down this slippery slope it can turn into a real dangerous situation.

  5. Steve says:

    next……alcohol…….soda………fast food……….coffee……and anything else they may determine that is unhealthy

  6. Florida Native says:

    So now new people hired can’t even smoke at home? Now that’s cute!

  7. T says:

    Total discrimination towards the potential new employees! If it applies to the newbies it should start in house first! Rule should apply to all of the city of palm coast workers not just the new ones.

  8. John Boy says:

    The drunks on the BCC continue to make silly rules that are unjust and illegal. Will they soon pass further restrictions of not hiring people who own firearms or fuck their spouses? Just tells me that the BCC is truly made up of a bunch of Tea Baggers who don’t have a clue.

  9. Girl says:

    You got to be kidding me, Big Brother…. next they will tell you what you can eat, wear, chew, drink etc., and who to talk to – what does what you do in your own home or on the outside have to do with the work force – Something is going on here – it’s not right – what happen to this county.

  10. RHWeir says:

    It’s about time and thank you Flagler County for being so forward thinking. It’s interesting that I worked for a state up north for 30 years and retired. At first back in the 70’s they smoked at their desks. Then, late 80’s they had to go outside. In the 90s they could still go out and smoke but fewer did. By the 21st century, most employees at the state level up north did not smoke at all. They had taken advantage of smoking cessation programs and incentives not to smoke. I came down here and went to work for the State of Florida and it was like a time warp back to the 80s. Almost all of them smoked! They don’t get paid squat here! I don’t know how they could afford it. Speaking of a time warp, they paid me less in 2012 than I made up north in 1981. Happily fully retired again, no longer working for peanuts and I still don’t smoke.

  11. fruitcake says:

    If your dumb enough to still be smoking you need someone to tell you what to do!

  12. Enough Said... says:

    Talk about a contradiction!!!

    What about the employees that do smoke ? I guess the poor guy that doesn’t or quit a year or so ago has to watch his fellow buddy enjoy his smoke………..

    So, why don’t they have the “already” employed lose their job until they quite for a year? That sounds about as much fair as the other way around??

    So, I guess the insurance is ignorant to the fact that some employees already smoke and that leaves them free from testing…

    Talk about dancing with 2 left feet here!!! OMG …what’s next?

    Better check them out to see if they’ve had a drink in the past too..Alcohol is adictive AND is not healthy…Better watch out! Your afternoon toddy may be wiped off the agenda!!!!!!

  13. Jimmy says:

    Always falls on the smoker…. Amazing.. But the drinkers get to continue. Just like everything else. They are quick to always blame the smokers. But behind the scenes they are looking at the huge dollars they collecting from the tax revenue that is generated off a single pack of cigarettes. From federal to local governments. (tax % on cigarettes is significantly higher on cigs than alcohol)

    They need to treat smoking just like being a drug or alcohol. Help the person instead of crucifying them.
    This move will help with the high unemployment rate here too…not.

    I can see not allowing to smoke during hour they are getting paid but not controlling what a person does on their own time. NONE of your business…..

    Spend your time finding jobs for our citizens that don’t have jobs instead of wasting time on this.

  14. tulip says:

    Businesses, organizations, hospitals, offices etc. have been refusing to hire smokers for quite some time now. Second hand smoke is also just as dangerous as actual smoking and therefore people should not be forced to be around it in the work place, restaurants or anywhere else and can get ill effects from it. All this raises the premiums on health insurance that the companies have.

    I do agree that the current employees should be given the patch or some other aid to stop smoking within a certain amount of time or they are either fired or they will have a really large chunk of their insurance premium deducted from their paycheck. What if a business has 10 employees and 8 of them are allowed to still smoke while the newly hired ones can’t? All or nothing.

  15. billy says:

    As I stood in front of the county building I noticed 80% of the staff being both overweight and even more who were outright obese. At lunch many quickly husseled over to Wendys…but never has anyone addressed the hugh medical costs associated with them! Do we have $4 sin tax on Ho-Ho’s and Twinkies – No! Is the county concerned with how its employees appearance to the public looks..No! But hey, feel free to apply for a job if your a fat slob who never exercises, sits on their ass always, and constantly stuffs their face…..no higher insurance premiums there!!! Unhealthy people are encouraged to apply…unless you smoke(you nasty SOB’s).
    Me..I’ve smoked now for 35 years, my BMI is dead on for my height, go to the gym everyday, have run countless 5k runs, and have good musle mass. Oh and also have not called in sick for over ten years! But you are right flagler, I would be a terrible employee! My masters degree would total be of no value to you at all because of the cigarette hanging out of my mouth! You are much better served with the obese person with special sauce dried in the corners of their mouth! They won’t call in sick, cause rate increases, or drop dead of a massive heart attack at 45!
    Wake up people, you are letting government dictate your lives without solid facts. But hey, you all voted in obama, so our soon to be socialized america will outlaw everything that’s not approved by king obama and his circle of leaders anyways!
    Don’t worry smokers, keep on going! You don’t need a job with the county anyways, now that our supreme leader has made the welfare rate equal to about $15 an hour, along with the best healthcare available free of charge. Plus as an added bonus, they don’t have the right to drug test you like regular county employees(it”s unconstitutional to drug test people would sponge off the system). So smoke up and stay home and enjoy!!!!

  16. orphan says:

    At work today on the beach in the Hammock area, I made a comment to a fellow employee: “I don’t understand how the ‘whites’ won control of this country.They smoked, and one can smell that nasty odor literally for miles.” This comment was made by me because 200 feet away and 30 feet in the air one of the workers on a lift was smoking.
    Without intentionally jumping into this mess, I’m caught between a rock and a hard place.
    We have WAY too much government involvement in our everyday lives (our personal lives) than there needs to be.
    But what some people don’t seem to realize is that personal lives and public lives aren’t God -givenly (sorry about that) separate. We should have the right to indulge in whatever we want to indulge in while at home . I hold that to my heart!!!!!
    But when I encounter that nasty smell out in front of the businesses that I support I feel as if perhaps all smokers should have an area out back of the latrine in the woods somewhere. Just my input.

  17. THE VOICE OF REASON says:

    I don’t smoke. And frankly, I select places I go by whether they permit smoking.

    But this is wrong.

    Not only is it none of the employer’s business whether a prospective employee smokes (regardless of insurance, etc.), but it sets up people to lose the prospect of a job because of what SOMEONE ELSE DOES. For example, a non-smoker who just graduated from college applies, but because she lived at home with smoking parents to save money, has inhaled enough second had smoke to test positive.

    And they have to remain “negative” even though they are forced to work in an environment where smoking is allowed for others who already work there. Any chance of second-hand smoke causing a positive test in the future?

  18. Diego Miller says:

    Flagler County employees got just what they deserve. They opted to have no union representation( County would not sign a Union contract) and laid off most of the Unionized force. Most of the employees that work for the County couldn’t find work around here anyway. They are forced into love it or lump it. Yes Boss, is a term uttered frequently by most Flagler county employees.
    Yes, you give up your Constitutional rights when you sign up to work for Flagler County.
    Flagler County employees will more often die from STRESS, not smoking.
    As for Mr. Laundry’s statistics, the diet most of the employees have is far more detrimental to their health than smoking. HOW ABOUT AN ORGANIC LUNCHROOM? AND STOP DRINKING ALL THAT SODA!

  19. Steven Janiszewski says:

    There are plenty of good reasons to stop smoking.
    If you want to stop, get “Stop Smoking and Lose Weight: A Buddhadharmically Enhanced Alchemical Transmutation Process,” by Tharpa Lodro:

    http://www.amazon.com/Stop-Smoking-Weight-Buddhadharmically-ebook/dp/B00E55R8F6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374761933&sr=1-1#

    And just do it.

  20. Lordrobot says:

    Unconstitutional. Demonizing legal conduct. The Palm Coast Nazis never stop with their unlawful exercise of socialist brown shirt tactics. Netts is Nuts. Palm Coast takes in Federal Funds and this is a violation of due process and has nothing to do with asking a person of they smoke. This is prohibiting perfectly legal activity which can only be limited in some cases to protect non-smokers. But no citizen that is employed by a company or City that receives federal funds may violate the 14the Amendment.

    • orphan says:

      @ Lordrobot
      WOW!
      You are at least the second person to refer to this mess as caused by ” the nasty city” eg: Palm Coast.
      If you actually read the article it is in reference to the Flagler County Commission.
      I have to hang my head in shame at what our international *friends* are viewing on sites such as this. :(

    • Anita says:

      Don’t you mean Fascism instead of Socialism?

      fas·cism
      [fash-iz-uhm] Show IPA
      noun
      1.
      ( sometimes initial capital letter ) a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.

      Socialism n. the theory or system by which the means of production and distribution are owned collectively and controlled through the government.

  21. Sherry Epley says:

    I am NOT a smoker and never have been. I know full well how 2nd hand smoke can have a very negative impact on your health. My mother and father died from smoking (emphysema/heart attack). I cannot stand to be around “stinking” smokers, and I hate it that they don’t consider their butts to be litter.

    BUT. . . I am strongly in support of our rights of privacy and choice. This is just another example of how “for profit” INSURANCE companies are eroding our civil rights in the government AND private sector work place. Requiring that others not be subjected to second hand smoke. . . even around entrances to buildings is fine with me, but invading the privacy and testing for things citizens may do in their own homes is outrageous! How is it even legal? This may end up being tested in court.

    • Ohno says:

      “For profit insurance companies”

      No, that just do actuarial work. The Surgeon General started this and Obamacare requires differing premiums for smokers.

  22. Christopher V. says:

    We have the (voting) power people…vote these power hungry people out next election. Done.

  23. Observer says:

    Stupid. Sums this decision up in one word. I’m not surprised Nate McLaughlin voted yes on this, he’s well noted for inane decisions, but the rest, thought enough had some sense.
    A more realistic approach would be to establish a “smoke free” campus so to speak and not have designated smoking area’s this approach would probably increase productivity and discourage smoking, which might lead to someone quitting on their own.
    I mean based on this decision alcohol probably causes more death and disease. I’m sure the list can go on.

  24. don't buy from bailed out says:

    You learn something new every day. I did not know Michael Bloomberg lived in Flagler County !

  25. BW says:

    First of all, I don’t see this as one of those “big Government” things. The County Government as an employer can decide to hire whoever it chooses and set it’s standards for hires as it chooses (within legal reason of course). BUT I see this as ranking up there with the “turn the lights off” solution to cost cutting. It’s a lazy-man’s approach. Alcoholism also raises health costs and reduces productivity (a cost increase) so why not add that one in too? Let us know how this works out down the raod when you need good candidates, find a great one, and that nicotene thing disqualifies them.

    I quit smoking 2 years ago and happy I did. But I don’t look down upon someone else that smokes. Nor do I think I should insist others don’t do this or that. I get caring about people and wanting the best for them. But there is this movement lately as a society to “over-reach” and insist on others living as another has decided is the “best” for all and all under the guise of “it’s raising health costs”.

  26. Random Citizen says:

    The liberal big government agenda backfires on itself yet again:

    Free food from the government.

    Free housing.

    And now free health insurance from the government but ooooops, they have to curtail the costs so instead of coming up with good ideas, big government liberals defer to what they know best – doing everthing they can to control the population’s behavior!

  27. Random Citizen says:

    It WILL BE alcohol, soda, red meat, and your weight next.

    Netts better get off his lazy ____ and start exercising instead of spending so much time shakin’ down business owners at the local restaurants.

    He may lose his own health coverage before he knows it.

  28. happening now says:

    IDoes anyone REALLY know the stats on cancer now since nicotine is banned? Maybe lung cancer, but the food we have to eat today, and everyone I know is on some sort of medication, with over 100.00 unexplained deaths in our hospitals and nicotine the cause of health care expense??? Give me a break.

  29. Will says:

    To those folks who blamed Palm Coast Mayor Netts above for the new rule, go back and re-read the story. This is a new Flagler County rule NOT one by Palm Coast City. You can’t blame this one on Mayor Netts, unless the city follows suit.

    On average, smokers are not as healthy as non-smokers and non-smokers live longer. Of course there are exceptions, but if this keeps the county’s healthcare costs down, which may reduce taxes, I applaud the new prohibitions.

  30. tulip says:

    @ RANDOM CITIZEN Mr. Netts is not a county commissioner, so why are you blaming him?

    No smoking policies have been adapted all over the country. As far as trying to pass a nicotine test, it is extremely difficult for a smoker to go 8 hours without smoking and it does stay in the blood for quite awhile. You’d be amazed what an intricate blood test shows up.

    Smokers who manage not to smoke all day at work still smell of smoke because it gets on their clothes at home and from smoking in their car. It’s a lot stronger than you think.

    I quit smoking 6 years ago and I’m amazed at how I can still smell the smoke from a distance. I began having health problems, so I quit and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. When I think of all the years I subjected my kids and cat to constant smoke wafting down their lungs, I get a guilt trip.

  31. Anita says:

    “You can do what you want as long as you do what I tell you to do! Welcome to liberal America”

    Where are there Liberals in this equation? These are your buddies, the same controlling conservatives who want to harness women’s reproductive rights, so remember this actiion when their terms are up.

  32. Dr says:

    I now see the use of prescription medications increasing. These smokers will have to do something to self medicate themselves; that’s why they smoke in the first place. What is the county going to do if medical marajuania is legalized and employees have a need to use this medication?

    Rocks shouldn’t be thrown when one lives in a glass house.

    Will this impact employees who work for those as the Sheriff since he does his own hiring?

    I see this as big time discrimination towards new hires, and believe that is why the City of Palm Coast is just watching before they implement such a policy.

  33. My Daily Rant says:

    Just Government once again telling us what we cant do.Why don’t these fools get us jobs or try to fill ALL the empty store fronts in Palm Coast.Next election vote them all out.

  34. Will says:

    Bert Fish Hospital in Volusia Co just announced it’s not going to hire smokers: http://www.news-journalonline.com/article/20130822/BUSINESS/130829800/1033/BUSINESS03?p=1&tc=pg

    Florida Hospital Flagler doesn’t hire smokers, nor does FL Hospital Fish Memorial.

    Bert Fish charges existing smokers who choose to have health insurance $25 more per paycheck – read the article to see what they do with it.

    And, for the question about the Flagler Sheriff’s plans, I think that office stopped hiring smokers a month or two ago.

    Not sure if the article addressed whether Flagler County will charge existing employees who smoke more for their health insurance, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

  35. Come on says:

    Obesity is the nations number one health risk. I think the next rule should be that you must not be overweight at all and we should pass a law outlawing any gas station from selling fountain drinks over 12 ounces. This is so stupid.

  36. Plain and Simple says:

    If you can buy tobacco in the store, then isn’t illegal to smoke, dip or chew. Until tobacco is deemed illegal, then folks have the right to smoke, dip or chew no matter what an employer states.

  37. Mike says:

    This is another form of government over stepping their bounds of what should be common sense and not law, charge those who smoke a higher premium. The government feels they need to be involved and control every aspect of our lives, sorry but I am a grown man and can make common sense decisions. We recently purchased a new mattress, my wife asks how often should we flip our new mattress, to my surprise, none. Why you ask, because the government made them add a flame retardant substance to the new mattress and it’s so expensive that it is only on one side, so now the government tells me what I have to sleep on. Our administration is just plain out of control, they are in place to create and uphold laws that make sense, fix budget problems and keep our defense in tact. I for one am ashamed of our current state of government and how it does every thing but what it was created for, in 1776 a bunch of real people had the same issues and stressed their dislike for all the taxes and rules. Where have we gone as a nation, how about they focus on the real problems, how to stimulate the economy and come up with a real health care solution. For anyone who thought they were getting free health care look again, the affordable health care act is going to destroy the economy, and it’s not free, the IRS will ensure once you have a job they will garnish your wages until you pay back the premiums you owe while you were not working. Where has our great nation gone, we coddle people, are afraid we may hurt someone’s feelings by telling them to get a job, send foreign aid to places that hate us and want to destroy us, yet we leave starving children right here in our poorly educated public school system. Thank goodness for the 5 Flagler County Commissioners, they are saving the day by not hiring a smoker, wait till the first law suit and the cost far out weighs the premium savings, good luck. Sorry for the rant, but this is the type of government nonsense that makes me shake my head then hang it in shame of our elected officials.

  38. Devrie says:

    People are talking about freedom and the employment practices of the county; however, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this employment practice happening with other companies, and it has to do with insurance. My mother-in-law’s husband had to get nicotine tests, and not only that, but they all, including the spouses are having to jump on a scale one a year to ensure they aren’t technically obese or their insurance goes up.

  39. JoeJoe says:

    GOOD! Smoking is a disgusting habit and I see county employees on the side of the road smoking and flicking butts while doing their jobs. The county pays their health insurance, and non smokers are proven to be more healthy. So good call on their part….

  40. Jennifer says:

    I do not agree with that at all. I am a former smoker, i quit this past January. I can look past the rules on smoking while on the job, but not on your personal time. Why can’t we call foul on this, or discrimination? Cause thats exactly what this is. Who gave these people the right. So honest working people can not get jobs all because they smoke. Lets make this rule about alcohol too. Alcohol affects job preformance, if they are hung over from the night before. Who does smoking hurt? If you don’t want second hand smoke exposure then don’t walk near the smoking section. This is just what happens when people in office are bored and want to waste more money!

  41. Tammy says:

    I dont see how this is even legal. what about cellphones and driving? or the alcohol? seriously?

  42. Sharon says:

    Totally ridiculous! This is suppose to be a free world! I agree with it not being aloud in the work place but I am sorry they should have no control over your private life. These elected officials need to be more concerned about city matters! Like the cities Swales that do not flow!

  43. Robert says:

    This is nothing but totalitarian fascism. It’s fucking scary . Believe me , the greedy fucks won’t stop with smoking. I can assure you however, the scumbag middle men in the insurance industry will continue to play golf and sail their boats while we are forced to act like nazi soldiers. And I’m sure they’ll smoke their cigars while they laugh at us. They’ve fucked up the job market to the point people are scared enough to do whatever their told. So every employee has to have a blood test to prove they are nicotine free? What about other forms of nicotine like swedish snus. The safest there is. Many people use nicotine patches, gum, even the damn president chews nicotine gum. This is fucking insane. And they have the right to take your blood ? really? what else will they test for? This country is on it’s way to revolution. People can only take so much.

  44. ooops says:

    With the current commissioners and administration anything could happen. Many people working for the County have been overlooked, underpaid and treated like sh%#! Even our local commissioners don’t stand by their employees, they either ignore the everyday worker or snub their noses. They don’t know what’s going on half the time and make stupid comments when they don’t have their facts right. I think we should test our commissioners for stupidity. Just the fact that they continue to let the administration pull it over their eyes. Oh, but I forgot, they walk around with their eyes half shut. Just get on welfare instead of working for the crappy wages given by the County – then you can smoke – do drugs – or whatever. Too bad they don’t realize the knowlege and strengths or the employees who they beat down daily with there so called administration.

  45. Bill says:

    I dont smoke never did and think it is just about the most seldestructive and dumb thing one can do. That being said it is wrong to not hire one because of a legal thing they do on their own time. make it against policy to smoke while at work and have a much larger weekly deduction for INS for smokers. Also I did not see any place that says people runing for elected office can not smoke??? Why would they also not ban them/that

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