Tribune Company Ends $100 Monthly Smoking Fee

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By: Joe Strupp

The Tribune Company has ended a $100-per-month penalty for employees who smoke and enroll in the company’s health plan, saying the fee is “inconsistent with the new culture,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

“We’d rather you use your own judgment when it comes to tobacco use, not impose ours upon you,” Gerry Spector, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, said in an e-mail to employees, the paper reported.

The Tribune added that: “about 600 of more than 16,000 employees in the plan acknowledged smoking when they enrolled in October.” The fee, effective Jan. 1, was adopted before Sam Zell, now chairman and chief executive, led the private takeover of Tribune in December.

Spector’s e-mail congratulated those who had quit and gotten their fees refunded. “Quitting is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do,” Spector wrote. The Tribune added that employees will be reimbursed in late May for any fees paid under the restriction and Tribune Company will continue to offer a free smoking-cessation program.?

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