Maryville, Blount County (WVLT) – One hundred percent tobacco-free, that will be the order at a local manufacturing company, located in Maryville.
Denso Manufacturing Tennessee has announced it will expand its tobacco-free status from its buildings to include parking lots, driveways and eventually even private vehicles.
Medical Reporter Jessa Goddard has more on what prompted the change and how employees are reacting.
Production maintenance supervisor Terry Gardner has been a faithful employee of Denso for 16 years.
But he's been loyal to tobacco for even longer.
"I've been using smokeless tobacco products for approximately 18 years, and I've tried to quit on a couple of occasions, unsuccessfully."
Making the announcement first to its 2,500 plus employees, company officials announced the entire 155 acre campus will be tobacco free effective April 1, 2008.
Gardner says, "at first, I was shocked, because this is such a touchy subject with so many people."
But along with the announcement came a pledge of support, cost-free help to every employee and their eligible family members: including: Personal counseling sessions, nicotine replacement therapies, including patches, gum and lozenges, self-help booklets, and community support programs.
Jerrie McAbee says, "we really feel like it's going to be an expense the first year, the first part of next year for these costs. But we think, in the long run, it will be well worth it."
But beyond dollars and cents, company officials say it's an investment in the health and longevity of Denso employees and their families.
Gardner says it's that support, both emotional and financial, that he believes will help him to kick the habit for good, this time.
"That's what's helping me, because it's very expensive to quit. It's more expensive to quit than it is to continue."
Beginning January 1st, Denso will remove all ashtrays.
At which time, employees will only be allowed to use tobacco in their own cars.
Then, effective April 1st, no tobacco use will be allowed on Denso property. Period.
The company relied on recommendations made by a volunteer committee comprised of employees, smokers, non-smokers and smokeless tobacco users.
Officials say this intensified tobacco-free initiative will also help prepare employees for any future state legislation that would eliminate smoking around businesses.