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Board seeks smoking prevention information

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

Hyland 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.

While the board agreed to Hyland’s request for information, several board members said they thought his approach went too far.

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

Supervisor Linda Smyth (D-Providence) noted 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 their cigarette butts behind.

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

Election commission members appointed

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed the members of the bipartisan Election Process Improvement Commission on Tuesday. The commission, which the board voted to establish following the long lines during the November presidential election, is charged with reviewing the county’s election process and making recommendations for how it could be improved.

Democrat Katherine Hanley, a former board chairwoman 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, including the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters, the Fairfax Bar Association, Fairfax County Public Schools administration, Federation of Citizens Associations, and disability and minority community representatives.

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

SoberRide combats drunken driving with free cab rides

As the season of celebration kicks into full gear, so does the Washington Regional Alcohol Program’s annual SoberRide program. Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. from Dec. 14 to Jan. 1, area residents celebrating with alcohol can get a free cab ride home by calling 800-200-TAXI, or, for AT&T Wireless customers, #WRAP.

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