January 12, 2007
As legislators across the country grapple with the issue of smoking in the workplace, one of Charlottesville’s largest employers has taken matters into its own hands.
It is becoming harder and harder for smokers to find places to light up and at State Farm Insurance, employees can no longer just step outside to take a puff.
“There will be no smoking on State Farm property within our zone,” said State Farm Public Affairs Specialist Jon Hannah.
That means no more outdoor designated smoking areas. No smoking on the sidewalks, in the parking lot, or even sitting in your car.
As of last week, smokers have to take just a few extra steps to comply with the letter of the company law.
For some, that means getting in their car and driving down the street and for others, they simply walk off property grounds.
State Farm says it’s a decision made for the health of all employees.
“I am very excited and I think it’s healthier and I don't have to walk past the clouds of smoke anymore,” said Non-smoking Employee Aisha Nelson.
For companies like State Farm the health care costs are staggering. According to the American Lung Association the costs of health care and lost productivity from tobacco are estimated at $167 billion dollars nationwide each year.
“It's a serious health risk and as a company, we wanted to provide a healthy work environment for everyone,” said Hannah.
The smoking ban is in effect in what State Farm calls Zone One, which encompasses five states.
No smokers at State Farm would comment on what they thought of the new rule.
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