Lafayette County work force to go tobacco-free

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Lafayette County supervisors voted 3-1 Monday to ban tobacco use by county employees on the job.
The move will save the county more than $32,000 in health insurance premiums with Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Mississippi.
District 1 Supervisor Mike Pickens voted against the measure, and District 2 Supervisor Johnny Morgan, who is in the insurance business, recused himself from the discussion.
“It really wouldn’t be fair to not do this when it’s available and have the people who don’t use tobacco subsidize with a 3 percent increase in their insurance,” said Board of Supervisors President Lloyd Oliphant.
“We’re going to give them six months to implement the program. That ought to be more than sufficient time for anybody to adjust to it.”
While the ban does not extend to personal time, some board members hope having to abstain from smoking, dipping or chewing on the job will encourage employees to give up their tobacco habits altogether.
“We’re going to give them six months to implement the program. That ought to be more than sufficient time for anybody to adjust to it. It’s also a good amount of time for someone to try to quit,” Oliphant said. “What we’re going to do is to pay for cessation – the patches, the gum. If someone really wants to quit, we’ll help with that.”