Flagler County adopts smoke free hiring policy

New hires to be tested for nicotine

1970: President Richard Nixon signs the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act into law, requiring the surgeon general's warnings on tobacco products and banning cigarette advertisements on television and radio in the United States, effective Jan. 2, 1971. (Zsuzsanna Kilian/SXC)

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – More and more places are becoming smoke free, and now one Florida county is adopting a smoke free hiring policy.  

WPLG sister station WJXT reports Flagler County officials voted a week ago to prohibit smoking on and off the job. 

"It just makes good sense and good tax payer dollar sense to hire people who are not smokers," said Flagler County Communications Manager Carl Laundrie.

Starting October 1, Flagler County will not be hiring smokers to work in the county. The Commission voted August 19 to require all new hires be tested for nicotine and prove they've been smoke free for at least a year. 

Laundrie said some people are reacting negatively to the new policy, saying that it is an invasion of privacy. Laundrie points out that because the county is self-insured, the new policy will save tax payers money.

"We're saving tax dollars by making sure the people we hire, and studies have shown that people who smoke have a higher absentee rate are sick more often, and often times have serious sickness because of smoking," said Laundrie.

The new policy will apply to all new hires in Flagler County run agencies. Current employees will not be impacted by the new rules, but the county will offer current smokers a smoking cessation course and any assistance they need to help quit smoking.

Flagler County will be the first one in this area to implement a smoke free policy.