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Updated Aug 1, 2014 - 2:38 pm

Arizona county's government could stop hiring smokers

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Pima County may soon refuse to hire anyone who smokes and smokers already on the payroll can expect higher health insurance rates.

According to a memo sent by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, prospective employees would be tested for nicotine as part of the hiring process.

About 32 percent of county workers are smokers.

Huckelberry told the Arizona Daily Star that "not hiring smokers is a way to avoid long-term medical costs."

He said the expanded rules would promote a healthier workforce and save taxpayers money on county health insurance costs, especially since the county is self-insured.

Huckelberry hoped the initiative could go before the supervisors in September or October and if approved, go into effect in January 2015 or the beginning of the new fiscal year in July 2015.

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