Corporate anti-smoking policies spark debate in Louisville - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Corporate anti-smoking policies spark debate in Louisville

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Ben Jackey Ben Jackey
Sign at JCPS promoting tobacco-free school campuses. Sign at JCPS promoting tobacco-free school campuses.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The presence of two new anti-smoking policies sparked a heated debate in Louisville on Monday.

With the onset of July 1, came the implementation of a new tobacco-free policy at all Jefferson County Public Schools campuses.

"Now there are no designated smoking areas on campuses," said Ben Jackey, JCPS communications director. "You cannot smoke on our campuses. You cannot use tobacco products on our campuses. You cannot use e-cigarettes on our campuses."

The policy applies to both staff and parents, prohibiting the use of tobacco products year-round, including in district vehicles and parking lots.

"When parents come to pick up students and are waiting for those students possibly in their car or outside, they can't smoke on campus," said Jackey. "All of our events - football games, basketball games - will be smoke-free, even outside."

JCPS' tobacco-free policy is not the only such initiative in the area. Leaders at UPS also have an anti-smoking policy they are preparing to roll out in September.

In an e-mail to WAVE 3 News, UPS Public Relations Manager Mike Mangeot wrote:

"Due to increases in healthcare costs that are not sustainable, UPS has been forced to change benefits for our management and administrative work groups.

Most notably, our employees who use tobacco products will have to pay a monthly surcharge of $150. We are offering our employees the opportunity to quit using tobacco and avoid the surcharge. September 1, 2013 is the deadline for quitting tobacco to avoid the surcharge for next year.

We know that tobacco use can be a difficult habit to break, and we want to give smokers the best chance possible to quit, so we're giving them two other options. If our employees complete the American Cancer Society's Quit for Life program before the end of 2013, they will not have to pay the premiums for 2014. If they complete the program before the end of 2014, the total tobacco surcharge will be refunded to them."

While smokers I spoke with elected to remain anonymous, they expressed dislike for the anti-smoking policies, feeling they go too far.

"I think it's a smoker's right to decide whether they're going to damage their own lungs or their own health," said one smoker. "I don't think the employer, or the government, has the right to tell you when you can smoke and when you can't."

Jackey maintains JCPS' tobacco-free policy is about students and not adults.

"This is not about adults and adult needs, this is about our kids," said Jackey. "It's about setting a good example for our students and making sure that they don't pick up possibly dangerous habits at a young age."

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