Ocean Springs employees banned from lighting up on the job

By Patrice Clark- bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Mayor Connie Moran said some Ocean Springs employees will have to kick their tobacco habit while on the clock.

"During work hours, whether they are out in the city, whatever their job is, on campus or off campus, they are not to be using tobacco," Mayor Moran said.

Firefighter Brain Dawkins favors the plan. He said it looks bad when employees dip, chew, or smoke tobacco products on the city's time.

"You are not always around smoke. You are not as professional looking in the public's eyes, if you are walking around with cigarettes in our hands," Dawkins said about the benefits of the new policy.

Dawkins said he doesn't use tobacco, but knows quite a few city employees who do. He thinks they won't be happy with the ban.

"They will be affected as far as not being able to use it; however, it is all determined on that person and how hard as it is going to hit them."

All the parks and all public buildings in Ocean Springs are already smoke free. The mayor feels this new tobacco plan is another healthy step in the right direction.

"If you are proactive about it now, and people adopt a healthy lifestyle upfront, then you will have lower doctor bills and health risk later on in life," Mayor Moran said.

Human Resources Director Mindy McDowell said there is another bonus to going tobacco free, a cut in the city's health insurance cost.

"This three precinct reduction with our partners at the Blue Cross equates to a $30,000 savings annually," McDowell said.

City leaders are hoping the tobacco free policy will send a clear and positive message to the community that Ocean Springs wants healthy city workers.

The mayor said the city is also offering a tobacco cessation program to employees and their families struggling with tobacco addictions.

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