The results of a study conducted by the city’s Wellness Committee earlier this month show 40 percent of McDonough employees who completed a confidential survey smoke or chew tobacco.
Carla Tuck, McDonough human resources officer, disclosed the results last week at a city council meeting.
She said the results were “unfortunately high.”
Although the results of the survey were higher than expected, Tuck said employees, “indicate[d] that if we put programs in place they would be interested.”
At the Aug 5 council meeting, council members said employees who smoke or chew tobacco can avoid a surcharge on their health insurance costs if they take advantage of smoking cessation programs by the end of the year.
City government employees are insured under Coventry Insurance who could charge more for their services due to the negative health effects linked to tobacco usage.
“The wellness committee will meet to discuss possible programs, but if we do not have a lot of employees participating in these programs, the committee will come back and request a surcharge starting January,” Tuck said.
Tuck also said once anti-smoking programs were put into place, the city will, “help employees financially by giving them a certain sum of money,” to pay for the expenses that come along with quitting tobacco.
The exact dollar amount was not disclosed.
Tuck said the city wellness committee will meet next week to discuss in more detail what programs can be offered to employees.
Councilwoman Sandra Vincent suggested possible sponsorship from the American Cancer Society in the city’s quest to stop tobacco use.
“We need to saturate our employees with information about this topic with posters, e-mails and lunch-n-learn sessions,” she said.
Vincent also said steps should be taken to “pre-inform everyone that the reason why these services are being implemented is because we have been requested to consider a surcharge.”