Delray Beach, Florida may soon begin hiring only non-smokers to save money on insurance premiums. City Commissioner Al Jacquet stated “budget woes” initiated the non-smokers only discussion but that the change in hiring practices alone would not solve the city’s fiscal dilemma, according to the Sun Sentinel. The city of Hollywood, Florida enacted a similar non-smoker employee policy in 2005. Smoking is already banned in more than 40 Miami-Dade County parks.
Delray Beach city officials are expected to approve mandates similar to the ones currently on the books in Hollywood. According to Hollywood city representative Jaime Hernandez’s statements to NBC Miami, smoking public employees were grandfathered in and new employees must sign an affidavit swearing they had not used tobacco product for the past 12 months. As the Hollywood policy states, any employee “caught smoking” can be fired.
Public employees who smoke in nearby Broward County are charged an additional $20 each pay period as an insurance surcharge. While smoking is certainly not healthy, other personal habits could contribute greatly to insurance expenses as well. If smokers are charged an extra insurance premium fee, why not charge those who drink alcohol, eat too much chocolate cake or red meat an added fee also?
If mandating a non-smoking lifestyle for public employees, which are funded by the taxpayers, why not go the extra cost-saving mile and enact a similar policy for folks living on public assistance – also funded by taxpaying Americans? Florida Governor Rick Scott has come under much scrutiny for his decision to drug test Florida residents on welfare. Will the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) take up the fight for personal freedom and the “right” to receive a check on behalf of the hard-working Delray Beach employees who enjoy tobacco, or is their angst simply reserved for those who are merely handed a check each month?
A non-smoking policy passed in North Miami Beach was repealed after a job candidate who refused to sign the affidavit filed a lawsuit. Four of the five Delray Beach commissioners voted in favor of the policy, but it remains unclear about if and when it will be enacted.