Delray Beach To Hire Only Non-Smokers, Officials Say

Delray Beach would follow in the footsteps of Hollywood, which adopted a similar policy in 2005

No ifs, ands or cigarette butts about it. Soon, those looking to get hired for a city job in Delray Beach will have to say no to lighting up.

Officials in Delray Beach say the move is two-pronged: it will encourage healthy lifestyles for employees, and in the long run it could save the city major bucks.

"Smokers can cost an organization more than $12,000 per year in health and disability-related costs," Human Resources Director Bruce Koeser said.

Delray Beach officials are already drafting the new policy, and say it is only a matter of time before it goes into effect.

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The city would join a number of municipalities in South Florida that have had similar measures in place for years. In Hallandale Beach, new hires must sign an affidavit swearing they have not smoked in the last 12 months. City Commissioner Alexander Lewy says it is an honesty policy.

"We just ask them that they not be smoking for a year prior to employment. We're not Big Brother, so we don't check up on our employees. We just encourage a healthy lifestyle," said Lewy, who added that the program has worked to do just that.

Lewy said it is one of many steps the city has taken to encourage good health, like offering free gym memberships to employees.

The City of Hollywood adopted its policy seven years ago, as a way to encourage a healthy environment for its employees. City spokesman Jaime Hernandez said the policy has been successful.

Not all cities have stuck with the policy. North Miami rescinded its policy in 2003, years after the then-interim city manager felt the city was not seeing the decreases in liability costs it was supposed to see. The rule was also hindering recruitment efforts, North Miami spokeswoman Pam Solomon said.

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