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Sets an Example

January 04, 1987|JUBE SHIVER Jr.

On the heels of making a pitch for healthier life styles in its recent television ads, Blue Cross of California--the state's largest health insurer--has decided to promote healthier life styles among its 5,000 employees by imposing a ban on smoking at all of its facilities.

Blue Cross President Leonard D. Schaeffer, a nonsmoker, said that the policy has been in effect for about two weeks for 1,000 workers at Blue Cross' Oakland headquarters and that the requirement was expanded to other sites last Friday.

"To allow smoking in an office environment is not consistent with our company's commitment to the promotion of healthier life styles," Schaeffer said in a prepared statement.

"In addition to providing a safe and healthful environment, smoke-free work locations will help increase productivity and reduce illness."

Blue Cross spokeswoman Sharrell Blakeley said she had no estimate of how many of the company's employees smoke. And she said the company would not refuse to hire smokers in the future.

Blue Cross joins a growing number of companies that have prohibited smoking in the workplace.

Although the precise number of companies that have banned smoking throughout their facilities remains small, about eight states and more than 100 cities nationwide regulate smoking to some degree in the workplace, according to Action on Smoking and Health.

Blue Cross began phasing in the new policy last summer by restricting smoking to designated areas within its facility. It has announced plans to make smoking cessation classes available to employees who want to quit smoking.

Workers who continue to smoke will be allowed to do so only in areas outside company facilities during regularly scheduled rest and lunch breaks.

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