Weekly Feature



2018-02-08 / Front Page

New smoking ban policy in works

by JENNIFER WATERS
Editor

Human resources representatives are busy trying to navigate the rough waters of crafting a policy for West Seneca employees regarding the new ban of tobacco use on town property.

Laura Devine, of the Human Resources Department, said she has been working on new guidelines soon to be released to employees regarding the smoking ban that is taking place involving town properties, campuses and parks.

During Monday’s Town Board meeting, she discussed the importance of putting up signage and letting employees know what the rules are.

“[Smoking] hasn’t been much of an issue this time of year because people don’t want to be outside, but as it gets nicer, we see that that typically is a problem around the doorways,” Devine said.

She said she is looking for feedback from town department heads regarding employees who smoke near town buildings or where to send employees off campus for smoke breaks.

“We’d like to work on that so we have a good, concise message for the employees when we release [the policy],” she said.

Councilman Eugene Hart said the town couldn’t possibly allow employees to leave campus to smoke.

“What, are we going to provide them with patches?” he asked.

“Through health insurance, if they want to get that they could, yeah,” Devine said. “They could just smoke at lunch.”

Hart reiterated that employees cannot smoke anywhere on campus and would still have to leave on their lunch break.

The ban includes all town property and vehicles, including while employees are out in town for work.

“Under the ordinance, the ordinance says that it’s on town property,” said Town Attorney John Fenz. “Would they be permitted to smoke off town premises? Yes. However, under the law, the workplace extends to a work vehicle.”

“I have a problem with the complete ban, because I know, unfortunately, smokers have a tough time with it,” Hart said. “I really hate smoking; I do.”

The councilman believes allowing employees who smoke to leave town property for a break is unfair to employees who do not smoke.

When the law was passed in November, the board left open the option to create designated smoking areas in respect to town events, such as Community Days, when the event is held on town property.

Fenz said that what Devine is doing is working to assemble a policy that can direct employees, not implement a policy at this time.

“Our goal is to talk through it and have something that we can all talk about,” Devine said. “It’s a work in progress, and we will follow up with each department.”

The law establishes a tobacco and smoke-free policy for all town-owned parks, playgrounds and property in the interest of providing a safe, healthy environment and protecting both employees and the public from the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke.

The law also prohibits smoking on the Town Hall campus and in town vehicles, including work trucks and police cars, as well as event spaces. It includes the prohibition of e-cigarettes.

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