Special committee aims to make Bourbon County tobacco free

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A special committee aimed at making Bourbon County healthier meets today to discuss tobacco use in the workplace. But before a policy is put in place, committee members say they want to make sure it’s something everyone can support.

It’s a mixture of several offices, from economic development, to the county commission and even public works. And committee members say it’s important that all agencies are represented, because any policy they come up with could have a big impact on all county employees. And because there are several that use tobacco, public works supervisor J.T. Heckman says they have to ensure those folks have a voice in the process.

“Quite a few. That’s smoking and chewing,” says J.T. Heckman, Public Works Supervisor, Bourbon County.

And Heckman says that’s why it’s so important that they take those people into account as they develop a policy.

“I think the whole point of this is we have them in mind. They’re the reason we’re doing this, we want the quality of their life to be better, ultimately, and everyone around them,” says J.T. Heckman.

Bourbon County Economic Development Director Jody Hoener says to accomplish their goal, they’re looking for ways to help those who want to kick the habit.

“We’re not about shaming people. We’re about making this place, the place where we spend a lot of time, where we work a healthier place to be,” says Jody Hoener.

Hoener says the focus of Wednesday’s meeting was looking at developing a consistent message and timeline for moving Bourbon County towards becoming tobacco free on all county owned property.

“We don’t want it to be something that’s going to be a shock or and all of the sudden you take it or you don’t type of situation,” says Jody Hoener.

She says the group is in the process of developing recommendations for the county commissioners, who will ultimately decide what the county’s policy will be. And she says they want to make sure everyone has a chance to weigh in before that point.

“There’s a couple of departments that we feel aren’t adequately represented, and so we’re going to reach out to them,” says Hoener.

Heckman says it’s important the group be as inclusive as possible, because while being healthier will help save the county money in health care, the true goal is saving something much more important.

“We want to engage our employees and make them part of the process in making the work site healthier and more comfortable,” says J.T. Heckman.

The group is planning to meet again next month. The hope is to have a plan in place for commissioners to review in the coming weeks.

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