Tennessee’s biggest health insurance company will ban smoking from all of its properties next year.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee announced today it will prohibit the use of tobacco products by both employees and tenants at any of its properties, effective Jan. 1.
“Smoking and use of tobacco products cost the United States billions of dollars in health care costs and lost productivity each year,” said Ron Harr, senior vice president of human resources for BlueCross. “Going tobacco-free is a natural way for our company to not only address these issues, but also set a healthy example for our members and fellow Tennesseans.”
In 2007, BlueCross began offering smoking cessation programs and other educational materials to its employees as a way to ensure a smooth transition to the new policy. Since that time, the percentage of employees identifying themselves as tobacco users has dropped and company officials anticipate that number to further decrease.
BlueCross has more than 4,000 employees in 10 locations in Chattanooga and will consolidate those workers into a new $299 million corporate campus atop Cameron Hill next year.
According to a 2007 survey by the Tennessee Department of Health, one-quarter of Tennessee adults smoke cigarettes. It is the most preventable cause of death in the United States, causing 438,000 deaths annually.
For complete details, see tomorrow’s Times Free Press.