Pima County, Arizona — employer of some 3,000 workers — could be on course to refusing to hire smokers. And smoking employees may face a steep surcharge for their health coverage if they don't kick the habit.

The county, which includes Tucson and has a population of nearly 1 million, already has a strict non-smoking policy. Its county benefits plan offers smokers — about 1,000 of whom work for the county — various smoking diversion programs. Now, a county administrator wants to take the anti-smoking sentiment to the next level and include the no-hire clause in the county's employment policy.

Chuck Huckelberry sent a memo to the Pima County board of supervisors calling for the board to approve a ban on hiring smokers in order to underscore the county's commitment to providing a healthy work environment for all workers.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.