Supervisors seek smoking prevention information

At the request of Supervisor Gerald W. Hyland, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will receive a report on what it legally can do to discourage its employees from smoking.

Hyland (D-Mount Vernon) asked the county attorney to detail whether the county could ban smoking on all county property, consider tobacco use in hiring decisions and mandate that employees who smoke enter smoking cessation programs. The county already prohibits public safety employees from smoking, bans smoking indoors and in county-owned vehicles, and offers voluntary smoking cessation classes.

Several board members said they thought Hyland’s approach went too far.

“Smoking is a very difficult habit to kick,” board Chairman Sharon Bulova (D) said. “Forcing people to do something is probably not helpful or even successful.”

Supervisor Linda Q. Smyth (D-Providence) said that when Inova Fairfax Hospital banned smoking on its campus, she began receiving complaints from surrounding neighborhoods about people going there to smoke and leaving cigarette butts behind.

Hyland said smoking is a very personal issue for him because his father and sister died from smoking-related illness. He said it also is a budget issue, because smokers tend to have higher health-care costs.

Board appoints members to election commission

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed the members of the bipartisan Election Process Improvement Commission on Dec. 4.

The commission, which the board voted to establish after long lines during the Nov. 6 election, is charged with reviewing the county’s election process and making recommendations.

Democrat Katherine Hanley, a former board chairman and secretary of the commonwealth, and Republican Stuart Mendelsohn, a former Dranesville District supervisor, will jointly lead the commission.

The other members include one appointee designated by each supervisor, two appointees designated by the chairman, the chairs of both the Republican and Democratic parties of Fairfax County, and representatives from various Fairfax County organizations.

The commission is expected to begin work in January and present its recommendations in May.

SoberRide offers free cab rides from Friday through Jan. 1

The Washington Regional Alcohol Program’s annual SoberRide program will be available from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday through Jan. 1.

Residents who might have had drunk too much alcohol can get a free cab ride home by calling 800-200-TAXI; AT&T Wireless customers can dial #WRAP.

Fares are limited to $30 and users must be 21 or older. About 2,000 people used the SoberRide service last December.

— Fairfax County Times