The Milton City Council discussed a new Wellness Program and Tobacco Free Workplace Policy in Monday’s executive session.

If the new policies are adopted it could mean current employees’ decision to smoke will impact the City’s contribution to their health insurance. The city is also considering not hiring tobacco users after Oct. 1.

If the city council approves the two new policies in executive session, they will be placed on the consent agenda for the Feb. 12 council meeting.

The goals of the new Wellness Program are to encourage and support employees to be more physically active, eat healthier foods, stop using tobacco and manage stress.

The program will be a collaborative effort from the City of Milton, Santa Rosa Medical Center and Wellness Works, among other programs.

Among focus areas of the Wellness Program are eating healthy, physical activity, and stress management. A tobacco free workplace policy will be discussed for adoption as of Oct. 1, 2013.

Although participation in the program is voluntary, according to city documents, the employees’ participation in the Wellness Program will determine the City’s contribution to the employees’ health insurance. Employees will earn a total of 100 points by participating in two programs – the health risk assessment and nicotine testing to determine if the employee is tobacco free.

To help employees quit smoking, the city will offer resources through the West Florida Area Health Education Center and the Florida Quitline, which creates a personalized quit plan, coaching sessions, self-help materials and quit aids – such as nicotine replacement therapy.

If the employees have participated in both programs, each worth 50 points, by Aug. 31, they will maintain the current city’s contribution of 100 percent for employee only health coverage and 65 percent of employee and dependent health coverage.

Beginning Oct. 1, the city will contribute 100 percent for employees who have completed 100 points on the Wellness Plan, 95 percent for those who have completed 50 points on the Wellness Plan, and 90 percent for those who have completed 0 points on the plan.

A separate Tobacco-free Workplace Policy was also discussed in executive session and prohibits the use of tobacco products in the buildings, on city property and in vehicles owned by the city.

All employees hired after Oct. 1 are prohibited from using tobacco products on City property and while working on City time.  It also states in the policy’s purpose that it is in the best interest of the agency to hire only those persons who do not use tobacco products.

By hiring people who do not use tobacco products, the City plans to reduce the amount of lost productivity and workdays due to poor health as a result of tobacco use.

Employees hired prior to Oct. 1 are encouraged to stop using tobacco products and tenured employees must adhere to all provisions of the policy, according to City documents.

New pre-employment requirements under the proposed policy state the City will only hire applicants who do not smoke or use any tobacco products six months prior to the application process. Potential employees hired after Oct. 1 will take a nicotine test and will be tested annually to establish the contributions they will have to pay toward their healthcare premium.

The full draft of the Wellness Program and Tobacco Free Workplace Policy can be found on the city’s website in the Feb. 4 executive session document.