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Posted: 12/17/2003 6:03:26 AM EDT
Smoking by deputies under arrest

HEALTH: County adopts rule to reduce costs


01:46 AM PST on Wednesday, December 17, 2003



By MICHAEL CORONADOAND DAVID SEATON / The Press-Enterprise

Newly hired Riverside County sheriff's deputies will not be able to smoke under a plan approved Tuesday by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

Current deputies who smoke might also be asked to join programs to help them quit. The effort is part of a comprehensive plan to stymie the increasing cost of workers compensation and disability retirement to Riverside County.

In San Bernardino County, an applicant's tobacco habits are not part of the county's background investigation for sheriff's applicants, public information officer Cindy Beavers said Tuesday by phone.

The county does not screen out smokers for any job, county spokesman David Wert said.

San Bernardino County prohibits smoking in all official vehicles, including sheriff's patrol cars, and is getting ready to implement a new state rule barring smokers from puffing within 20 feet of building entrances.

Supervisors John Tavaglione and Marion Ashley voted for the smoking ban, but later asked that the ban be extended to all new county employees out of fairness.

But Supervisor Roy Wilson said that the state singles out safety employees by presuming that any disabilities due to heart disease, diabetes and cancer - all smoking related illnesses - are job-related and therefore are covered by workers compensation and disability retirement.

After the meeting, Tavaglione said if the no-smoking policy works well in the sheriff's department, it should be expanded countywide.

Also included in the Riverside County plan is a proposal for deputies and other county employees to be subject to drug testing under a "reasonable cause" scenario. The measure of reasonable cause is defined as someone who appears impaired by legal or illegal drugs from the perspective of a "reasonable person," said Ron Komers, director of human resources for Riverside County.

Both policies must be negotiated with union leaders and possibly voted on by county supervisors before taking effect.

Jim Cunningham, executive director of the Riverside Sheriff's Association, said he looks forward to sitting at the table to discuss the smoking proposal.

But he called the recent drug-testing idea a complicated issue and said it isn't needed because a drug-testing policy is already in place.

In 2003, the county paid$16.4 million in workers compensation claims, a nearly 38 percent increase from five years ago, according to the county's human resources department.

County officials are hopeful a package of proposals will help keep county workers healthier and workers compensation costs down. Among the ideas:

Provide an on-site deep-tissue massage therapist for qualified employees suffering from repetitive motion injuries.

Create fitness incentive programs to help keep deputies more physically fit.

Have a liaison work with physicians to have employees return to work as soon as possible.

Komers said the no-smoking program has worked for 10 years in Ventura County, where he implemented it as human resources director there. Most smokers want to quit, but struggle, he said.

The county's chief executive officer, Larry Parrish, asked whether the county was going too far. He wondered if eating bread and butter would be next.

Komers said smokers, because of their poor health, suffer more injuries and take longer to recover.

"It's unfortunate for us, because we pay the bill while these individuals get better," he said.

Former Sheriff Larry Smith, an admitted former smoker, was granted disability retirement benefits last March for heart disease problems. He said the stress and strain of 36 years in law enforcement contributed to his inability to work.

The disability status allows him to receive half of his roughly $137,000 annual pension tax-free, and taxpayers also can be billed for medical treatment related to his heart problems.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 6:08:32 AM EDT
They did this in Tallahassee and a couple of other cities several years ago. Smoking disqualifies new hires, but current employees who smoke are unaffected.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 6:09:43 AM EDT
I don't like smoking, but this is big brother at it's finest. [V] Mike
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 10:03:15 AM EDT
You oughtta see how bad the ban is here in VA. New hires are required to sign an agreement stating that they wont smoke or dip even off-duty. If they get caught- automatic termination, no ifs, ands, or buts! Personally I say it's my life if I want to smoke I should be able to. The system sucks!!!!
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 10:15:21 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/17/2003 10:16:09 AM EDT by cyanide]
Next they will tell joggers not to apply for jobs, they have bone and joint injuries. It starts us down a slippery slope.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 11:08:16 AM EDT
It's a good idea. It will save insurance & workers comp costs. Anyone who wants to smoke can work someplace else. My agency says we cannot smoke, chew tobacco, or drink coffee in uniform.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 11:12:48 AM EDT
I don't think any employer should have a right to tell you that you are not allowed use of a LEGAL substance on your own time. It is intrusive, and nanny government shit.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 11:30:59 AM EDT
I bet they dont care if your drinking a half case a night. CH
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 11:46:25 AM EDT
"But Supervisor Roy Wilson said that the state singles out safety employees by presuming that any disabilities due to heart disease, diabetes and cancer - all smoking related illnesses - are job-related and therefore are covered by workers compensation and disability retirement." "In 2003, the county paid$16.4 million in workers compensation claims, a nearly 38 percent increase from five years ago, according to the county's human resources department. " Sounds reasonable to me a taxpayer that they should take reasonable steps to lower their costs. You don't like it, don't work there.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 11:48:21 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/17/2003 11:50:15 AM EDT by DoubleFeed]
Isn't it funny how 'universal healthcare is a right!', but if the government tries to do damage control, they are too intrusive. If the government has the duty to pay for your healthcare, shouldn't they have the right to control how you damage it? Why wouldn't you want government to constantly look for ways to reduce costs?
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 11:53:03 AM EDT
I might have to quit and go on welfare if I could not drink coffee in uniform, that's unAmerican!! Ar15 fan what agency do you work for?
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 12:09:28 PM EDT
OMG!! Next they’ll be prohibiting doughnuts!! [:D]
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 12:34:18 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/17/2003 12:37:28 PM EDT by fight4yourrights]
Originally Posted By AR15fan: It's a good idea. It will save insurance & workers comp costs. Anyone who wants to smoke can work someplace else. .
View Quote
Are you serious? Why not include: donuts, soda pop, butter, fried foods, hang gliding, gun ownership, eating at McDonalds, being more than 2% overweight, parasailing, downhill skiing, etc....
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 12:42:47 PM EDT
Crack I could see. Pot, well... maybe. But java? No, no fricking way.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 12:48:36 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 199: OMG!! Next they’ll be prohibiting doughnuts!! [:D]
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Coffee is a gateway drug............. Next thing you know it's coffee and donuts. Mass. has had rules about no tobacco use for some jobs for 15-20 years. Some insurers have offered lower rates in group plans if ceryain activities are prohibited, motorcycle riding, sky diving etc. It's partially the nanny-state, and partially the nanny-insurance mindset. I would be interested to know if that County allows smoking in the jail. Of course when you work for "the mann" often times "the man" has special stupid rules for the employees. Also, cops and correction officers drop dead younger, get divorced more, and commit suicide far above national averages. So one might wonder if smoking, or shift work, stress, working conditions do more to make those health problems and personal problems come to the fore-front.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 1:39:00 PM EDT
I think smoking is a disgusting habit. That being said this is [red][b]BULLSHIT![/B][/RED] No smoking in the cars, in offices, etc… I don’t have a problem with. Regulating a LEGAL activity that a person does when not on duty is just total crap. What they can’t outright ban or criminalize, they will get rid of through shit like this (including firearms ownership for the non LEO's). Hell, I could see LEO's in the same boat in a few years: "Why do you own firearms? You don't need them execpt the ones we issue and then only on-duty. You're a possible risk and we can't have that." Slopes and Teflon my friends, they don't mix well.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 2:13:52 PM EDT
After smoking is banned being over weight is next.NOT! Being over weight is a sickness . I wonder if they will do random drug testing for tobacco. Now pee in the bottle or should I say breathed into the bottle.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 2:30:21 PM EDT
Ok, so now we are going to bow down before the insurance companies to help them reduce their payouts. While I seriously doubt that the reduction in premium will come close to the projected reduction in payout, let's go ahead and do it. Oh, but while we're at it, we're going to have to do a little bit of other testing. Since we have isolated genes that are good predictors of such things as cancer and Alzheimers (costing lots and lots of $$ for that long-term care), we'll just go ahead and disallow people who have those as well. Surely, those of you who have no problem with the smoking thing will have no problem with this either. FWIW, I'm an ex-smoker. Haven't had one in 1 year and 9 months or so. Won't ever have one again. But this is bullshit.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 4:01:49 PM EDT
Now lemme get this straight folks. There is an activity known to wreak havoc on the entire body. It is an addictive activity. It is a known quantity. The knowledge of what the activity [b]will[/b] (not might) do is known by nearly everybody. What do you have to do? Light leaves and suck. Kiss your health goodbye. Government, as well they should be, is looking for ways to reduce costs. They are also looking for ways to increase the efficiency of government services. The government service which actively interacts with the public the most are the emergency services - police, fire, medical. Why wouldn't you want policies that promote fitness and readiness in the emergency services? That's not nanny state. That's good business. Otherwise, you are wasting your money paying for people to make themselves sick. I can't fathom the controversy over this.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 6:29:02 PM EDT
Originally Posted By DoubleFeed: Now lemme get this straight folks. There is an activity known to wreak havoc on the entire body. It is an addictive activity. It is a known quantity. The knowledge of what the activity [b]will[/b] (not might) do is known by nearly everybody. What do you have to do? Light leaves and suck. Kiss your health goodbye. Government, as well they should be, is looking for ways to reduce costs. They are also looking for ways to increase the efficiency of government services. The government service which actively interacts with the public the most are the emergency services - police, fire, medical. Why wouldn't you want policies that promote fitness and readiness in the emergency services? That's not nanny state. That's good business. Otherwise, you are wasting your money paying for people to make themselves sick. I can't fathom the controversy over this.
View Quote
Many of these same, trusted government sources claim that you are [b]43 times more likely to die from having a gun in the house[/b] So, given that, I guess it would be a good thing if they banned gun ownership, since it would reduce our premiums.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 7:34:29 PM EDT
As someone who is allergic to cig smoke, I was happy when they banned it from restaruants here. So were many other people which is why dining out has taken such a dramatic leap. However, I won't tell someone what they can do on their off time....especially in their own house!
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 7:49:28 PM EDT
They tried a smokers ban here along time ago. If you were a smoker your app went into the trash. A nurse was fired, She was in surgery workin on a kid in an bad accident. The kid died on the table. all choked up she went out for a smoke and was seen by an administrator. She files a wrongful termination/Discriminatory suit. Won. Campus paid out the Wazoo and dropped the policy for employees.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 7:50:17 PM EDT
Originally Posted By DoubleFeed: Isn't it funny how 'universal healthcare is a right!', but if the government tries to do damage control, they are too intrusive. If the government has the duty to pay for your healthcare, shouldn't they have the right to control how you damage it? Why wouldn't you want government to constantly look for ways to reduce costs?
View Quote
We're sorry. You cannot ask 'Pandora's Box' questions like that, even if you [i]are[/i] a Moderator...[;)] This will not be tolerated. Whether you are on duty or not. In the privacy of your own bedroom. Nope. Doesn't matter. Can't do that. Sorry.
Link Posted: 12/17/2003 8:46:23 PM EDT
THEY SUCCUMB TO THIS THEY'LL TAKE OUR WEAPONS 2.........ITS A INCREMENTAL MOVE.MArk my words!
Link Posted: 12/18/2003 3:58:01 AM EDT
Originally Posted By BusMaster007:
Originally Posted By DoubleFeed: Isn't it funny how 'universal healthcare is a right!', but if the government tries to do damage control, they are too intrusive. If the government has the duty to pay for your healthcare, shouldn't they have the right to control how you damage it? Why wouldn't you want government to constantly look for ways to reduce costs?
View Quote
We're sorry. You cannot ask 'Pandora's Box' questions like that, even if you [i]are[/i] a Moderator...[;)] This will not be tolerated. Whether you are on duty or not. In the privacy of your own bedroom. Nope. Doesn't matter. Can't do that. Sorry.
View Quote
Musta been a good question. [;D]
Link Posted: 12/18/2003 4:07:46 AM EDT
Originally Posted By fight4yourrights:
Originally Posted By AR15fan: It's a good idea. It will save insurance & workers comp costs. Anyone who wants to smoke can work someplace else. .
View Quote
Are you serious? Why not include: donuts, soda pop, butter, fried foods, hang gliding, gun ownership, eating at McDonalds, being more than 2% overweight, parasailing, downhill skiing, etc....
View Quote
Yes, I'm serious. Employers can put any restrictions they want into their hiring contracts. If you dont want to abide by the contract, dont apply there. It's that simple. If the restrictions are too bad nobody will apply for the job. So it has a way of balancing out.
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