tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

tocacco Cigarettes are smoking products consumed by people and made out of cut tobacco leaves. Cigars are typically composed completely of whole-leaf tobacco. A cigarette has smaller size, composed of processed leaf, and white paper wrapping. The term cigarette refers to a tobacco cigarette too but it can apply to similar devices containing other herbs, such as cannabis.
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South Florida workplaces push smoking bans to cut insurance costs

South Florida businesses and nonprofits are pushing their employees to stop smoking and lead healthier lives with the goal of controlling ballooning health care costs and increasing productivity.

Palm Beach County’s MorseLife is the latest organization to join the trend, offering Weight Watchers, yoga classes to reduce stress and a new midweek green market, where employees are encouraged to shop for the ingredients to make a healthful dinner instead of hitting the drive-through.

But along with the carrot is a big stick: Starting in January, employees will be prohibited from smoking on campus. Other companies have taken an even harder line on healthy living. At Hedrick Brothers Construction in West Palm Beach, employees who smoke or are considered obese, based on their body mass index, pay more for insurance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimates that each smoker costs an employer about $3,400 annually in higher health care bills, reduced productivity and increased absenteeism. While moves by employers to stamp out smoking may be unpopular with some employees, they are perfectly legal. The American Civil Liberties Union opposes measures that cost smokers more or dictate what they can or cannot do in their off hours. But the organization has had little success in controlling what some see as the hand of Big Brother.

In the early 1990s, the ACLU sued North Miami, asserting a violation of privacy, after the government began requiring applicants to sign an affidavit saying they did not use tobacco in the past year. But the state Supreme Court ruled in the city’s favor in 1995, arguing that individuals today regularly reveal whether they smoke in many aspects of life, such as when they book a hotel room.

James Green, a West Palm Beach based constitutional law expert who has handled cases on behalf of the ACLU, said he’s personally torn by employers trying to discourage smoking.

“As a civil libertarian, I am concerned,” he said. “As a private employer, I want my employees to be healthy and productive and protected by cost-effective health insurance wherever possible. There’s a real tension between those concerns.”

Health care organizations around the country have taken the lead among employers in banning smoking in the workplace. In Palm Beach County, in 2007, Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center became the first hospital to ban smoking everywhere on its campus. St. Mary’s Medical Center followed suit. It also screens applicants for nicotine and rejects candidates who are smokers. Delray Medical Center is slated to join the county’s other smoke-free hospitals in 2011.

At MorseLife, the goal is creating “a culture of wellness on campus,” said Mary Alice Pappas, senior vice president of MorseLife Foundation. “We want the responsibility of providing leadership and encouraging others to follow suit.”

The nonprofit organization’s desire to stop employees from smoking and improve their health isn’t entirely selfless. Pappas hopes the spiraling health care costs will begin to moderate or even drop.

“We are running a business, and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to reduce expenses,” she said.

MorseLife is getting some help striking the right balance through a partnership with Cleveland Clinic, one of the nation’s first organizations to push a comprehensive wellness program. A focus on health has become so entrenched at Cleveland Clinic that employees who agree to stop smoking, lose weight or follow other doctors’ orders to stave off or reverse illnesses such as diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma or obesity, receive rebates to cover any increases in health insurance premiums. At this year’s open enrollment, that was a 17 percent increase.

Cleveland Clinic started by banning smoking on campus but expanded its anti-smoking stance to its hiring protocol. Anyone offered a job is tested to see if they smoke. If a nicotine metabolite is detected, their job offer is rescinded.

Cleveland Clinic faced opposition from critics who said eliminating smokers from its candidate pool was insanity in the face of a nursing shortage, said Dr. Paul Terpeluk, director of Corporate Health and Employee Health at Cleveland Clinic. The hospital made the switch before the recession hit, when health care workers had plenty of choices.

Despite the doomsday warnings, banning smoking has had little effect on hiring. Since 2007, 15,000 applicants have been tested and 250 have tested positive and been turned away, Terpeluk said.

While Cleveland Clinic has received accolades for its program, there are plenty of critics who say such initiatives are intrusive.

“At what point does the employer’s tentacle stop reaching?” said Gary Nolan, U.S. director of the Citizens Freedom Alliance, Inc. and The Smoker’s Club. “Will they tell them they can’t ride a motorcycle or they have to wear a helmet, or will they complain that you are too lethargic and you have to exercise more?”

Nolan argues that MorseLife will get less productivity from its smoking employees because they’ll now have to drive down the street to light up instead of walking out a door.

Milling around the new green market, Amanda Sapio seemed genuinely energized about her employer’s new focus on creating healthier workers at MorseLife. After all, Sapio, 29, is a diet technician for the nonprofit that offers health care, housing and support services to seniors.

But the second part of MorseLife’s push, eliminating smoking, will be harder for Sapio, who got hooked on cigarettes at 15.

“Sure, at first,” Sapio said she worried about her employer intruding into her personal life, but now she’s hopeful MorseLife’s reach will be the motivation she needs to kick cigarettes after two previously failed efforts. She ordered nicotine patches that her company helps pay for.

“I’m kind of excited,” she said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
By Laura Green

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1 comment to South Florida workplaces push smoking bans to cut insurance costs

  • It’s funny (not) that health insurers give smokers a hard time…considering that top health insurers invest many Billions (with a “B”) in top cigarette makers.
    Search “PNHP Insurers Tobacco” for the stories.

    Those insurers also invest heavily in pesticides used on tobacco, in pharmaceuticals that make some of those pesticides, and in the fertilizer suppliers (some from Florida?) that supply the cancer causing radiation-contaminated phosphate fertilizers. It isn’t easy to search the SEC filings to get current info on where for-profit insurers invest, but this is an important side to the issue.

    Bottom line: Those insurers-investors, and the pesticide-chlorine industries (and many others) are doing everything possible to evade exposure and liabilities, and to put all the blame and penalties onto unwitting victims… those doing this “smoking” of what most believe is just tobacco. Far, far from it.

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