People Ban: AL Montgomery

Alabama Montgomery Update…

Montgomery ban on tobacco use on city property takes effect Jan. 1

[Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.]
December 27, 2011

If you plan to visit any city-owned property in the new year, you may want to leave one thing at home: your cigarettes.

Effective Jan. 1, Montgomery will institute a tobacco-free policy for all city property, facilities and city-owned vehicles. The prohibition includes any and all buildings that are owned, leased or rented, as well as the grounds maintained, parking lots, ramps and contiguous sidewalks.

Mayor Todd Strange said many other institutions have adopted a similar policy, including local colleges, and the city is following suit in order to offset health-care costs. Statistics show tobacco users cost the city health plan about $1,500 annually per user, according to information provided by the city.

“Our goal is to modify behavior,” Strange said. “We want to drive down costs, but also keep people healthy.”

Strange said another goal is to help curb secondhand smoke in public areas.

While the ban mainly targets city employees, it also covers personal use as well. Strange said there is not a monetary fine in place for an individual who is smoking on city property, but there is a diplomatic procedure involved.

“If a person was smoking at a ballpark, for example, we would ask that person to stop,” Strange said. “If they didn’t stop, we would ask them to leave.”

If a person does not comply, the police could be called, according to information provided by the city.

An individual also cannot smoke in a personal vehicle if it is on city property. While Strange admitted that would be hard to enforce, it is included in the ban, so it would be subject to the same diplomatic procedure.

City employees would be subject to the Progressive Disciplinary Policy, a disciplinary action in the same manner as other job performance issues. Continuing violations may also result in suspension or dismissal, the policy states.

Strange said the city has about 2,600 employees, and of those, about 1,900 signed a non-smoking affidavit.

About 700 did not sign and they have to pay an extra $25 a month for health insurance, he said.

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