Wichita Falls Kicking Butts: Employee Wellness Program

Wichita Falls employees who smoke are having to pay more for health insurance than employees who don't smoke. The city is doing this as an effort to cut down on health costs.

The city of Wichita Falls put the wellness program in place just last year. The goal is to improve the overall health of the employee workforce. Any smoker will pay a fee on their health premiums.

Jim Dockery, Assistant City Manager and Chief Financial Officer, said, "It is a problem with our plan, it costs more. Tobacco causes more complications and health risks."

Dockery said employees have to sign a certified document once a year. The document states whether they do or don't smoke or chew tobacco. If they do, the city charges them an extra $20 a month for health insurance, to help bring down insurance costs.

"It's not really excessive, but it is a small incentive for them to kick the bad habit of smoking."

Dockery added that employees can avoid the charge by participating in a five hour tobacco free life class. The class helps employees quit smoking.

Dockery said besides saving money, the choice to live a healthier lifestyle benefits each employee.

Tobacco free classes are open to all residents starting next week. There is a six week class, two day class and one day class. A 50% discount is available to anyone who signs up by June 5th.

You can contact Jennifer Thomas, Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist and class instructor, at (940) 740-2128 or click here to sign up for classes on her website.

Click here to see the smoking bans in Texas and Texoma.

Natalie Garcia,  Newschannel 6