Lifespan, one of Rhode Island's largest employers, is implementing a new policy that will make employees who use tobacco products pay a surcharge.
The policy will tack on an extra $600 a year to the medical benefits of any employee or spouse or domestic partner covered by company insurance who uses tobacco products. That includes cigarettes, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes.
Lifespan will also offer employees free smoking cessation programs.
Lifespan’s CEO says it’s a way to encourage employees to quit.
Some smokers say they wouldn't oppose a proposed ordinance that would ban smoking in all Providence public parks. The ban would make it illegal to use any form of tobacco in city parks and playgrounds, with a $50 fine for violators.
City council president and mayoral candidate Michael Solomon says the primary goal is to reduce children's exposure to tobacco. Cumberland resident Zach Judge, says he's only 18 but has been smoking for 2 years; he thinks the ban makes sense.
It depends on what you define as progress, or on what you define as an acceptable risk.
Every two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts out results from its latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey, or YRBS. Teens are surveyed about all kinds of risky and healthy behaviors, from how likely they are to wear a bike helmet to whether or not they've eaten fruits or vegetables in the past week, as well as the usual suspects like smoking and unprotected sex.
Can we slack off on prevention efforts now? Not if we want to prevent the estimated 1,750 tobacco-related deaths every year, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health. And that doesn't take into account the number of years lives are shortened by exposure to second-hand smoke.
The City of Providence said it hopes more municipalities follow its lead and pass ordinances that curb the sale of flavored tobacco products. The First Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a pair of ordinances banning the sale of flavored tobacco products and some store discounts.
The ban went into effect last January. Peter Asen, director of Providence’s Healthy Communities Office, said it likely contributed to results of a new study showing low rates of smoking in 6th 8th and 12th graders
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurers will be able to charge smokers up to 50% more than non-smokers for health insurance. Fair or not, a Politico article points out how difficult that policy might be to enforce - and not simply because smokers could lie. For instance: