• 22.12.2012 Berryville Bust Part Of $33M Cigarettes Sting

    A Federal Grand Jury sitting in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Harrisonburg has indicted dozens of individuals for conspiring to traffic in contraband cigarettes, money laundering and a variety of related charges.The defendants were charged by the grand jury in four separate indictments returned under seal on February 17, 2011, August 3, 2011 and October 6, 2011. Those indictments were unsealed earlier this week following the arrest and initial court appearances by the defendants.The charges are the result of a three-year investigation by the United...

  • 20.11.2012 Covenant Kicks The Habit

    Amy Olson-Yarbrough was tired of being a prisoner to tobacco."I decided I didn't want cigarettes to control my life any more," Olson-Yarbrough said. "When you're a smoker you have to figure out where you're going to be able to smoke cigarettes next, how long until my next cigarette, how am I going to hide it from my kids . . ."So, on Nov. 23, 2010, Olson-Yarbrough - a pack-a-day smoker who had been at it for close to two decades - quit smoking cigarettes.Now, Olson-Yarbrough can't stand anything about it."The smell of buy cigarettes really nauseates me," she said. "I'll never go back to...

  • 18.10.2012 No-smoking Policy For New Hires

    Should smokers who want to work for the county be forced to sign a pledge they will quit smoking cigarettes — and then be required to follow through before starting work?Should they pay more for their health-care coverage if they don’t keep the pledge, or decline to sign it?Is it discrimination for government not to consider smokers to fill open positions?The Muscatine County Board of Supervisors decided to have the county’s Health and Safety Committee study the issue, which was brought up by Sheriff Dave White at the Board’s regular meeting Monday.White told the Board he’s heard...

  • 10.09.2012 Court Upholds Big Award In Smoker's Case

    A state appeals court upheld $13.8 million in punitive damages against Philip Morris on Wednesday for the addiction and death of a 45-year cigarette smoker, saying the company's decades of concealment and lies about the dangers of its products were "extremely reprehensible."In a 2-1 ruling, the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles affirmed a verdict by a Los Angeles County jury in the case of Betty Bullock of Newport Beach (Orange County). Bullock had started smoking cigarettes Marlboros in 1956, at age 17, and quit in 2001 after she was diagnosed with lung cancer, two years...

  • 09.09.2012 California Court Approves 16:1 Punitive Damage Award

    Corporate America has pushed hard for years to hold the line on punitive damages, with some successThe Supreme Court has ruled that excessively high punitive damage awards, designed to punish defendants for particularly egregious behavior, can violate the Due Process clause. And the California Supreme Court had held that punitive damages typically should not be more than nine to ten times the size of damages awarded to compensate injured parties.But in a smoking cigarettes case against Philip Morris, a California appellate court yesterday signed off on punitive damages that were 16 times...

No-smoking Policy For New Hires

Should smokers who want to work for the county be forced to sign a pledge they will quit smoking cigarettes — and then be required to follow through before starting work?

Should they pay more for their health-care coverage if they don’t keep the pledge, or decline to sign it?

Is it discrimination for government not to consider smokers to fill open positions?

The Muscatine County Board of Supervisors decided to have the county’s Health and Safety Committee study the issue, which was brought up by Sheriff Dave White at the Board’s regular meeting Monday.

White told the Board he’s heard quit-smoking cigarettes pledges as a requirement of employment spoken of more and more among Iowa sheriffs. He said the requirement is court-tested and has been found constitutional.

Smokers in law enforcement positions who already work for the county would be allowed to smoke cigarettes during their breaks should the county adopt the proposal, White said.

“I urge you to look into requiring new employees not to be discount cigarettes users,” White told the Board. “There are some folks who obviously wouldn’t be in our (employment) pool, but it’s for everyone’s benefit.”

“It’s a big trend lately, having cigarettes users pay a surcharge on their health insurance premiums,” said Supervisor Jeff Sorensen.

But his colleague, Bob Howard, worried what might follow a no-smoking cigarettes requirement.

“What’s next?” he asked. “No Big Macs for lunch? No beer after work?”

Supervisor Kas Kelly, a former smoker, said she wasn’t comfortable banning job applicants from smoking cigarettes, but was willing to consider requiring them to pay more for their health insurance.

The International City/County Management Association (www.icma.org), a group that supports local governments across the nation, said that a number of local governments are considering their own policies on hiring smokers.

Palm Beach, Fla., school districts charge their employees who smoke cigarettes a surcharge on their health insurance. In Pierce County, Wash., employees must sign an agreement not to smoke cigarettes once they’re hired. In 2008, Sarasota County, Fla., stopped hiring smokers in all departments.

On the other hand, the group noted, 30 states have banned employers from making employment decisions based on an individual’s off-duty smoking cigarettes habits.