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Florida District Mulls Hiring Only Non-Smokers

The 66,000-student Pasco district in Florida's Gulf Coast is considering not allowing any new hires who are smokers.

This summer, the district started screening applicants for food service jobs for tobacco use, turning away those who tested positive.

According to an article in the St. Petersburg Times, the superintendent and some school board members support the change:

"We are sending a mixed message when we tell students not to smoke then we allow smoking for teachers," School Board member Cynthia Armstrong said Tuesday during a workshop on the issue. "I would really like to see us working out the issues toward this."...

Superintendent Heather Fiorentino said if the pilot program worked, she hoped to extend this policy to all new hires. She said 16 other departments are ready to move, if the board approves.

Others raised notes of caution, suggesting a more moderate position would be more acceptable.

"I am assuming our goal here other than to be good mentors for the kids...is to lower the cost of insurance. Have we ever talked about smoker premiums?" board member Alison Crumbley said. "I am feeling this is a little oppressive. I don't want to make people feel totally put off."

What do you think—a reasonable restriction, or a little bit too "Big Brother?"

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