December 10, 2009

McLean County going tobacco-free

McLean County going tobacco-free
New policy expands original guidelines
By STU MERRY

It will soon be illegal to smoke or use tobacco products of any kind on all county premises.
County officials held the first reading of a new tobacco policy at their Dec. 1 regular meeting. Board members looked over two policies – one regarding county-owned property, and the other dealing with county vehicles.
Commissioner Ron Krebsbach explained that the change came about because of unsanitary conditions pertaining to the spitting of chewing tobacco. Maintenance Supervisor Curt Malo responded that he’s found chewing tobacco in toilets, urinals, sinks and on the floor of the garage.
Suggestions have been made by various employees and department heads that the tobacco-free area be changed from “within 25 feet of all access points” to “any county property,” thereby including the lots the courthouse, highway sheds and law enforcement center sit on. The initial policy was implemented July 1, 2006.
Also, it has been mentioned at various employment law-training sessions that an enforcement provision could be added in the policy by way of payroll deductions for infractions by any employee.
County officials noted that no policy is in place to deal with infractions at this time.
The policy would apply to employees, county residents and visitors.
County officials noted the intent of the policy change is to provide a safe and healthful work environment and to combat rising insurance costs.
During discussion with department heads, Sheriff Don Charging noted one problem area might be in front of the law enforcement center, which would be public property.
“I just don’t want any misconceptions,” he said.
“We want our employees tobacco free when they are at work,” pointed out Commissioner Julie Hudson Schenfisch.
Enforcement was another hurdle.
“Should there be a penalty…,” Commissioner Steve Lee asked? “It might be hard to enforce it for people coming in from the outside.”
“It wouldn’t have any effect if you’re not going to enforce it,” responded E-911 Director Todd Schreiner.
 


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