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Community Health Center of Branch County institutes smoking ban for employees

COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - If you are a smoker, don’t bother applying for a job at the Community Health Center of Branch County, where a new tougher tobacco product use policy that will take effect this fall will also totally ban current and future employees from smoking while on break during their work shifts. The revised policy approved at last night’s hospital board meeting updates the smoke free campus guidelines that were put in place eight years ago.

Health Center President and CEO Randy DeGroot told the CHC Board last night this envisions employees not smoking from the beginning their shift to the end of the shift and also incorporates in the future no longer hiring smokers for new hires. DeGroot said part of the goal is address the problem of having the public, for example, drive by the west side of the hospital along Sprague Street and see employees on break smoking along the curb side just off campus. He said that image is an issue but the primary concern is those tobacco users coming back into health center smelling of cigarettes, on elevators and in the room setting, and they do receive complaints about the odors.

According to DeGroot, five percent or less of the 650 employees of the hospital are believed to be active smokers and as the revisions approach and are then implemented, they will be offered smoking cessation opportunities and classes . The Tobacco Free Work Day policy is set to take effect in November.