The Town of Sharon revised its Tobacco Use Policy this month. Many towns have tobacco policies, which regulate the use of tobacco by town employees while on the job. Some policies also lay down rules for tobacco use on town-owned properties. And the State of Vermont has several smoke-free laws on the books.
However instead of a routine policy update, the Sharon Select Board chose to take a stronger stance against tobacco use by drafting and adopting the following Tobacco Free Community Policy:
Tobacco use continues to be a leading cause of chronic disease and premature death in the United States. As both an employer and an overseer of community policies, the Sharon Select Board feels strongly that it should protect the health of all community members by adopting a tobacco-free policy for all town owned properties, buildings, and vehicles, effective August 1, 2013.
The Town will discourage the use of tobacco by employees and citizens by:
- a. Tobacco-Free property. Smoking and the use of tobacco products (including smokeless tobacco) is prohibited at Town-owned properties, in buildings, and in vehicles. All Town-owned premises will be posted as non-smoking areas.
b. Tobacco Cessation.
Recognizing the significant negative impacts of tobacco use on the health, productivity, and well-being of its officials and employees, the Town will actively refer them to smoking cessation programs and, within reasonable limits, provide time and incentives for those actively engaged in bone fide cessation programs.
c. Discouraging Town-wide Tobacco Use.
The Town will actively outreach to local businesses and other establishments to request posting in tobacco-free zones and will actively recruit participation by promoting tobacco cessation and tobacco prevention activities at Town-wide events including Town Meeting and Town-sponsored recreation and social events. The Town will also actively promote such programs in publications, on bulletin boards, and similar venues.
Sharon Selectman Paul Haskell proposed the switch from a town Tobacco Use Policy to a Tobacco Free Community Policy in an attempt to "strengthen the message that the Town actively supports healthy lifestyle choices and a healthy community in general," according to meeting minutes.