Smoking Has Its Price, and It's $1,200 a Year

Writer blasts newspaper's owner for ‘tobacco use fee’
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2007 6:26 PM CDT
Some critics fear that the introduction of specific smoking penalties in employee health benefits will lead to unjust intervention in other respects of their daily lives.   (
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(Newser) – A South Florida Sun-Sentinel writer is crying foul over his newspaper's parent company charging a “tobacco use fee”—a health plan add-on that punishes employees for smoking. Michael Mayo says he “was completely shocked” to learn his employer would extract $100 a month from any employee who smokes or requests insurance coverage for a family member who does.

What’s next from Tribune Co., asks the writer on his blog, “fees for alcohol use? Eating fast food? Having high cholesterol?” In a recent piece the Chicago Tribune says yes, predicting more healthy-lifestyle mandates, and detailing how the smoking penalties have been implemented at several companies—complete with random Breathalyzer-like tests. What the Trib doesn't do is mention that its owner, too, is making the move.