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July 27th, 2008:

Escambia County To Have Tobacco-Free Hiring Policy

The Associated Press


Escambia County will have a tobacco-free hiring policy starting in October.

All applicants for county jobs are currently required to take a drug test, which will be expanded to include testing for tobacco use. Any applicant testing positive for tobacco will not be eligible.

Officials say the policy is aimed at improving the health of employees and to get the county’s health insurance costs under control. It’s one of several policies county commissioners approved this week.

The county also is enacting a 50-foot smoking ban from the entrance or exit of any county building on Oct. 1. In two years, no county employee will be allowed to smoke anywhere on county property.

Billion Deaths – Lifesaving Crusade

July 27, 2008 – Sunday Gazette Mail

The World Health Organization estimates that cigarettes will bring agonizing early death to 1 billion people around the planet during the 21st century.

The World Health Organization estimates that cigarettes will bring agonizing early death to 1 billion people around the planet during the 21st century.

Two concerned American billionaires who care about humanity teamed up last week to try to save some of the nicotine victims.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined with retired Microsoft guru Bill Gates in pledging $500 million to halt smoking everywhere. Bloomberg will add $250 million to $125 million he already gave for the crusade. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation promised $125 million more. (Both men grew rich from computers: Gates by creating operating systems, Bloomberg by providing online financial data to Wall Street firms.)

Their joint effort will urge all governments to raise tobacco taxes sharply, ban smoking in public places, outlaw advertising to teens and free giveaways of cigarettes, start intensive warnings about tobacco danger, and offer nicotine patches to people trying to quit.

The drive will focus on five heavy-puffing countries: China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Bangladesh. The New York Times commented:

“It promises to be a struggle. Cigarettes are not only highly addictive and supported by huge advertising campaigns, they are also an important source of income for many foreign governments. In some countries, tobacco is a state-owned monopoly, and low- and middle-income countries collect $66 billion a year in tobacco taxes. About 5 percent of countries in the world have any anti-smoking measures like those the campaign envisions.”

That’s dismaying. Such governments are drug-peddlers, just like U.S. cigarette firms, reaping profits from people’s nicotine addiction, ignoring the terrible health toll caused by smoking. The Times noted that “waves of lung cancer deaths … typically begin about 40 years after smoking takes hold in a society.”

In an editorial titled “Stub out that weed forever,” Britain’s Economist said:

Despite decades of work by health campaigners, more than 1 billion people still smoke today. Smoking kills up to half of those who fail to quit puffing, reducing their lives by an average of 10 to 15 years. The World Health Organization says more than 5 million people a year die early from the effects, direct or indirect, of tobacco.

Billionaires Bloomberg and Gates deserve public gratitude for attempting to save lives. Oxford University epidemiologist Richard Peto summed up:

“I reckon this will avoid tens of millions of deaths in my lifetime, and hundreds of millions in my kids’ lifetimes.”