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Smoking Banned On Broken Arrow City Property

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The policy is not just aimed to help smokers, but non-smokers as well. The policy is not just aimed to help smokers, but non-smokers as well.
It cost the city $1,500 for the cessation classes. It cost the city $1,500 for the cessation classes.

By Dan Bewley, News On 6

BROKEN ARROW, OK -- Smoking is no longer allowed on Broken Arrow city property. The new policy went into effect on Friday, banning city employees or visitors from using any tobacco products on public property.

This is the final stage of a wellness policy the city adopted in 2007. Its goal is help city employees stop smoking while saving the city money.

Hayden Downie is Broken Arrow's deputy city attorney. He's smoked nearly all of his adult life.

He helped craft the city's new wellness policy; the final step began with the New Year. No more smoking or using tobacco products on city property, whether it's outside a building or in a vehicle, not only residents taking care of business, but also employees.      

"Healthy people provide better services for our citizens. They're at work on time, they're not sick. It helps cut health care costs," said Stephanie Higgins of the City of Broken Arrow.

Higgins says the city expects to save more than $500,000 a year in health costs by getting its employees away from the dangers of nicotine.

Downie has stopped smoking in the past, but only for a short amount of time. He's now taking advantage of city-paid cessation program to help employees kick the habit. He says it's working and he's starting to feel healthier.

"I have better breath, can breathe easier, and, yes, more energy," said Downie.

The policy is not just aimed to help smokers, but non-smokers as well. Because according to the American Lung Association, more than 50,000 people die every year from lung cancer or heart disease caused by second-hand smoke.

Downie admits it's tough to give up smoking, but says it's important to keep trying and hopes he can serve as an example.

"Just stick with it, continue to start. There's going to be failures and you're going to do it over and over again. But we can all make it eventually," said Downie.

It cost the city $1,500 for the cessation classes and, so far, 48 of the city's 150 employees who use tobacco products have taken advantage of the program.

Not only are the classes available to any city employee, but also their spouse who also uses tobacco products.

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