Smokers may lose out on job opportunities

KDBC
Monday, April 14, 2014 - 8:10pm

If you smoke you will not get hired.

This is the new policy El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles is implementing at the Sheriff’s Office.

"I will not hire anybody unless they sign an affidavit with me stating they will not smoke while they are employed here," said Sheriff Wiles.

On April 8th, Sheriff Wiles announced all nicotine products are banned on Sheriff's Office Property.

This ban includes all employees, volunteers, and community members who visit.

Current employees are also seeing tougher rules when it comes to nicotine products.

"They cannot smoke on property owned by the county, and not in uniform either because we want to set a good example to the public that we serve," he said.

Some El Pasoans said the Sheriff shouldn’t interfere on someone’s personal decision.

“Whoever made that decision I think it's dumb because that is a very personal decision,” said East El Pasoan Peter Chavira.

“If you have the abilities to maintain the high physical standards that they are requiring, then I would say there is no reason why they should not be allowed to smoke,” said Leon Santoyo, another East El Pasoan.

But Detention Officer Jose Leos, who's been with the company for 13 years said smoking does take away from you even if it's in the tiniest way.

"People believe that you know what ‘if I smoke there shouldn't be a problem, as long as I keep up to my running, and PTS tests I am fine’ but believe it or not, in the long run every year just for being a smoker, you tend to lose maybe a minute this year in your running time, the next maybe another," he said.

Officer Leos is a smoker himself, and said this was the small push he needed to take that next life changing step.

"I just decided I am going to quit. And me as an instructor I want to be actually a role model to the officers that I being a smoker for a long time can just actually quit from one day to the other," he said.

It's the bold changes like these that Sheriff Wiles is trying to encourage throughout the office.

Sheriff Wiles said it's not just the employees who actually benefit from this ban.

"Their health insurance is actually paid by the tax payer,” Sheriff Wiles said. “And when we have employees who get ill because of smoking, that's ultimately passed down to the taxpayer."

There is a loophole, however. For those employees hired before the ban took place on April 8th, they can continue to use nicotine products as long as they are not on county property or wearing their work uniform.

The sheriff also said those who are caught breaking the rules could potentially lose their jobs.

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