1. #1
    FireLt1951
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post Government Control of Your Private life.

    In MA. it is illegal for police and fire to smoke off duty, the penalty is termination. How many of you out there find this to be a little scarey that the government can start controlling what you do on your own time and in your own private life? Could they possibly carry this to the extent of genetic testing, what you eat or what you drink? I don't disagree with work enviroment rules, but your private life is yours and yours alone. What do think?

  2. #2
    Firediver
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    I agree, the gov't. gets to involved with our personal life as it is. The reason that they don't want you to smoke probably has to do with it causing cancer, and they want to be sure that it is the job and not the cigs that cause any health problems. I know it sounds stupid with all the other things that can cause an illness, but it is one possibility.

    ------------------
    Craig Walker

    stay low....stay safe....BUT GET YOU SOME!!!!

  3. #3
    mfgentili
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Lt, I answered this in our other discussion but for continuity sake will repost my reply here.

    I hear what you're saying Lt and I agree with you. I don't want anyone telling me what to do in my off time either and if I still smoked, I would be one of the members grandfathered and not affected by this law at all.

    In defense of the ruling though, new hires are told up front and in no uncertain terms that their appointment and continued employment is subject to them not smoking. They even have to sign a form stating that they do not smoke now and will not in the future and if they do, they must be terminated. It doesn't state they may be terminated, it says they must. This really leaves no doubt in the mind of new members.

    For those who may have missed what this law is and how it came about, here is a brief summary:
    As a condition of employment in Massachusetts civil service cities and towns, firefighters and police officers hired after 1/1/1988 may not smoke on or off duty. This law does not affect those hired prior to this date. This was enacted as part of pension reform. The thinking being that smoking is known to be a major contributing factor in heart and lung disease as well as many forms of cancer. These same maladies, when present in firefighters are presumed to be job related with resultant diability retirement benefits. In an effort to lower the risk of providing benefits for self inflicted illnesses caused by smoking, this law was enacted. It has already been challenged and upheld in court by a police officer who was fired for smoking off duty.


    ------------------
    Mike Gentili, Capt.
    New Bedford Fire Dept.

  4. #4
    Eng522ine
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    As if the government telling us what we can and can't do is something new??? I don't agree with it at all but it's just the way it is.

  5. #5
    daysleeper47
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I think the government has taken this one step too far here. As long as you aren't breaking laws, they have no right to tell you what you can and can't do in your off-duty time in my opinion. While I personally think smoking is equivalent to the devil(ok, not that bad, but I hate it ), the government has no right to tell people that they can't smoke. Has anyone tried to take this to court?

    ------------------
    Joe
    Daysleeper47
    "When the bell goes ding-ding, its time to get on the woo-woo."
    "Dusting desire - starting to learn. Walking through fire with out a burn..."
    Youngstown Fire Department

  6. #6
    ggtruckie
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    from what i understand money is the key factor in this one. If a fire deparartment offers unconditional heart and lung coverage, which most large ones do, they can get a lower premium on the insurance rates on this policy. The policy is that if at any time in your life during or after your career as a firefighter you get lung cancer or any form of heart diesease you will be completly covered. so it is not really the government contrlling what you do, it is big business. shocking huh? my .02 cents

  7. #7
    Brian Johnson
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Sorry this is so long but I think you will agree after reading this that Charleton Heston said it best.

    'Winning the Cultural War' - Charlton Heston's Speech to the Harvard Law
    >> School Forum, Feb 16, 1999 I remember my son when he was five, explaining to
    >> his kindergarten class what his father did for a living. "My Daddy," he said,
    >> "pretends to be people." There have been quite a few of them. Prophets from
    >> the Old and New Testaments, a couple of Christian saints, generals of various
    >> nationalities and different centuries, several kings, three American
    >> presidents, a French cardinal and two geniuses, including Michelangelo. If
    >> you want the ceiling repainted I'll do my best. There always seem to be a
    >> lot of different fellows up here. I'm never sure which one of them gets to
    >> talk. Right now, I guess I'm the guy. As I pondered our visit tonight it
    >> struck me: If my Creator gave me the gift to connect you with the hearts and
    >> minds of those great men, then I want to use that same gift now to reconnect
    >> you with your own sense of liberty of your own freedom of thought ... your
    >> own compass for what is right. Dedicating the memorial at Gettysburg, Abraham
    >> Lincoln said of America, "We are now engaged in a great Civil War, testing
    >> whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long
    >> endure." Those words are true again. I believe that we are again engaged in a
    >> great civil war, a cultural war that's about to hijack your birthright to
    >> think and say what resides in your heart. I fear you no longer trust the
    >> pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you ... the stuff that made this country
    >> rise from wilderness into the miracle that it is. Let me back up. About a
    >> year ago I became president of the National Rifle Association, which protects
    >> the right to keep and bear arms. I ran for office, I was elected, and now I
    >> serve ... I serve as a moving target for the media who've called me
    >> everything from "ridiculous" and "duped" to a "brain-injured, senile, crazy
    >> old man." I know ... I'm pretty old ... but I sure, Lord, ain't senile. As I
    >> have stood in the crosshairs of those who target Second Amendment freedoms,
    >> I've realized that firearms are not the only issue. No, it's much, much
    >> bigger than that. I've come to understand that a cultural war is raging
    >> across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain acceptable thoughts
    >> and speech are mandated. For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr.
    >> King in 1963 - long before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told
    >> an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red
    >> pride or anyone else's pride, they called me a racist. I've worked with
    >> brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But when I told an audience
    >> that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was
    >> called a homophobe. I served in World War II against the Axis powers. But
    >> during a speech, when I drew an analogy between singling out innocent Jews
    >> and singling out innocent gun owners, I was called an anti-Semite. Everyone I
    >> know knows I would never raise a closed fist against my country. But when I
    >> asked an audience to oppose this cultural persecution, I was compared to
    >> Timothy McVeigh. From Time magazine to friends and colleagues, they're
    >> essentially saying, "Chuck, how dare you speak your mind. You are using
    >> language not authorized for public consumption!" But I am not afraid. If
    >> Americans believed in political correctness, we'd still be King George's boys
    >> -- subjects bound to the British crown. In his book, "The End of Sanity,"
    >> Martin Gross writes that "blatantly irrational behavior is rapidly being
    >> established as the norm in almost every area of human endeavor. There seem to
    >> be new customs, new rules, new anti-intellectual theories regularly foisted
    >> on us from every direction. Underneath, the nation is roiling. Americans know
    >> something without a name is undermining the nation, turning the mind mushy
    >> when it comes to separating truth from falsehood and right from wrong. And
    >> they don't like it." Let me read a few examples. At Antioch college in Ohio,
    >> young men seeking intimacy with a coed must get verbal permission at each
    >> step of the process from kissing to petting to final copulation ... all
    >> clearly spelled out in a printed college directive. In New Jersey, despite
    >> the death of several patients nationwide who had been infected by dentists
    >> who had concealed their AIDs --- the state commissioner announced that health
    >> providers who are HIV-positive need not ..... need not ..... tell their
    >> patients that they are infected. At William and Mary, students tried to
    >> change the name of the school team "The Tribe" because it was supposedly
    >> insulting to local Indians, only to learn that authentic Virginia chiefs
    >> truly like the name. In San Francisco, city fathers passed an ordinance
    >> protecting the rights of transvestites to cross-dress on the job, and for
    >> transsexuals to have separate toilet facilities while undergoing sex change
    >> surgery. In New York City, kids who don't speak a word of Spanish have been
    >> placed in bilingual classes to learn their three R's in Spanish solely
    >> because their last names sound Hispanic. At the University of Pennsylvania,
    >> in a state where thousands died at Gettysburg opposing slavery, the president
    >> of that college officially set up segregated dormitory space for black
    >> students. Yeah, I know ... that's out of bounds now. Dr. King said "Negroes."
    >> Jimmy Baldwin and most of us on the March said "black." But it's a no-no now.
    >> For me, hyphenated identities are awkward ... particularly "Native-American."
    >> I'm a Native American, for God's sake. I also happen to be a blood-initiated
    >> brother of the Miniconjou Sioux. On my wife's side, my grandson is a
    >> thirteenth generation native American ... with a capital letter on
    >> "American." Finally, just last month ... David Howard, head of the Washington
    >> D.C. Office of Public Advocate, used the word "niggardly" while talking to
    >> colleagues about budgetary matters. Of course, "niggardly" means stingy or
    >> scanty. But within days Howard was forced to publicly apologize and resign.
    >> As columnist Tony Snow wrote: "David Howard got fired because some people in
    >> public employ were morons who (a) didn't know the meaning of niggardly, (b)
    >> didn't know how to use a dictionary to discover the meaning, and (c) actually
    >> demanded that he apologize for their ignorance." What does all of this mean?
    >> It means that telling us what to think has evolved into telling us what to
    >> say, so telling us what to do can't be far behind. Before you claim to be a
    >> champion of free thought, tell me: Why did political correctness originate on
    >> America's campuses? And why do you continue to tolerate it? Why do you,
    >> who're supposed to debate ideas, surrender to their suppression? Let's be
    >> honest. Who here thinks your professors can say what they really believe? It
    >> scares me to death, and should scare you too, that the superstition of
    >> political correctness rules the halls of reason. You are the best and the
    >> brightest. You, here in the fertile cradle of American academia, here in the
    >> castle of learning on the Charles River, you are the cream. But I submit that
    >> you, and your counterparts across the land, are the most socially conformed
    >> and politically silenced generation since Concord Bridge. And as long as you
    >> validate that ... and abide it ... you are -- by your grandfathers' standards
    >> -- cowards. Here's another example. Right now at more than one major
    >> university, Second Amendment scholars and researchers are being told to shut
    >> up about their findings or they'll lose their jobs. Why? Because their
    >> research findings would undermine big-city mayor's pending lawsuits that seek
    >> to extort hundreds of millions of dollars from firearm manufacturers. I don't
    >> care what you think about guns. But if you are not shocked at that, I am
    >> shocked at you. Who will guard the raw material of unfettered ideas, if not
    >> you? Who will defend the core value of academia, if you supposed soldiers of
    >> free thought and expression lay down your arms and plead, "Don't shoot me."
    >> If you talk about race, it does not make you a racist. If you see
    >> distinctions between the genders, it does not make you a sexist. If you think
    >> critically about a denomination, it does not make you anti-religion. If you
    >> accept but don't celebrate homosexuality, it does not make you a homophobe.
    >> Don't let America's universities continue to serve as incubators for this
    >> rampant epidemic of new McCarthyism. But what can you do? How can anyone
    >> prevail against such pervasive social subjugation? The answer's been here all
    >> along. I learned it 36 years ago, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in
    >> Washington, DC, standing with Dr. Martin Luther King and two hundred thousand
    >> people. You simply ... disobey. Peaceably, yes. Respectfully, of course.
    >> Nonviolently, absolutely. But when told how to think or what to say or how to
    >> behave, we don't. We disobey social protocol that stifles and stigmatizes
    >> personal freedom. I learned the awesome power of disobedience from Dr. King
    >> ... who learned it from Gandhi, and Thoreau, and Jesus, and every other great
    >> man who led those in the right against those with the might. Disobedience is
    >> in our DNA. We feel innate kinship with that disobedient spirit that tossed
    >> tea into Boston Harbor, that sent Thoreau to jail, that refused to sit in the
    >> back of the bus, that protested a war in Viet Nam. In that same spirit, I am
    >> asking you to disavow cultural correctness with massive disobedience of rogue
    >> authority, social directives and onerous laws that weaken personal freedom.
    >> But be careful ... it hurts. Disobedience demands that you put yourself at
    >> risk. Dr. King stood on lots of balconies. You must be willing to be
    >> humiliated ... to endure the modern-day equivalent of the police dogs at
    >> Montgomery and the water cannons at Selma. You must be willing to experience
    >> discomfort. I'm not complaining, but my own decades of social activism have
    >> taken their toll on me. Let me tell you a story. A few years back I heard
    >> about a rapper named Ice-T who was selling a CD called "Cop Killer"
    >> celebrating ambushing and murdering police officers. It was being marketed
    >> by none other than Time/Warner, the biggest entertainment conglomerate in the
    >> world. Police across the country were outraged. Rightfully so-at least one
    >> had been murdered. But Time/Warner was stonewalling because the CD was a cash
    >> cow for them, and the media were tiptoeing around it because the rapper was
    >> black. I heard Time/Warner had a stockholders meeting scheduled in Beverly
    >> Hills. I owned some shares at the time, so I decided to attend. What I did
    >> there was against the advice of my family and colleagues. I asked for the
    >> floor. To a hushed room of a thousand average American stockholders, I simply
    >> read the full lyrics of "Cop Killer"- every vicious, vulgar, instructional
    >> word. "I GOT MY 12 GAUGE SAWED OFF. I GOT MY HEADLIGHTS TURNED OFF. I'M ABOUT
    >> TO BUST SOME SHOTS OFF. I'M ABOUT TO DUST SOME COPS OFF..." It got worse, a
    >> lot worse. I won't read the rest of it to you. But trust me, the room was a
    >> sea of shocked, frozen, blanched faces. The Time/Warner executives squirmed
    >> in their chairs and stared at their shoes. They hated me for that. Then I
    >> delivered another volley of sick lyric brimming with racist filth, where
    >> Ice-T fantasizes about sodomizing two 12-year old nieces of Al and Tipper
    >> Gore. Well, I won't do to you here what I did to them. Let's just say I left
    >> the room in echoing silence. When I read the lyrics to the waiting press
    >> corps, one of them said "We can't print that." "I know," I replied, "but
    >> Time/Warner's selling it." Two months later, Time/Warner terminated Ice-T's
    >> contract. I'll never be offered another film by Warner's, or get a good
    >> review from Time magazine. But disobedience means you must be willing to act,
    >> not just talk. When a mugger sues his elderly victim for defending herself
    >> ... jam the switchboard of the district attorney's office. When your
    >> university is pressured to lower standards until 80% of the students graduate
    >> with honors ... choke the halls of the board of regents. When an 8-year-old
    >> boy pecks a girl's cheek on the playground and gets hauled into court for
    >> sexual harassment ... march on that school and block its doorways. When
    >> someone you elected is seduced by political power and betrays you...petition
    >> them, oust them, banish them. When Time magazine's cover portrays millennium
    >> nuts as deranged, crazy Christians holding a cross as it did last month ...
    >> boycott their magazine and the products it advertises. So that this nation
    >> may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great
    >> disobedience's of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated
    >> tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great
    >> men, by God's grace, built this country. If Dr. King were here, I think he
    >> would agree. Thank you.

  8. #8
    ntvilleff
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Sorry Brian. You're right it was too long, and after I got about a quarter of the way through I stopped reading it.
    The gov. isn't telling "people" they can't smoke. They're saying firefighters and police can't smoke. As Gentili mentioned, any new firefighters coming on are well aware of the clause, any any f.f.'s that were on the dept. before are grandfathered. If it is not exceptable then don't join. Just like the thread about the long hair. If it came to a point where the dept.s couldn't be staffed properly because of this, I'm sure the law would change back rather quickly.

  9. #9
    FRED
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    The Goverment has gone to far in my opinion.
    On-Duty fine...it has been held in the courts that on duty they can tell you what to do regarding smoking.
    However....
    The interests of the governement saving tax dollars does not and should not override the freedom of privacy for individualls.

    This idea that a government can tell you what to do off duty is not accepted in every state.

    Here is one particular case.

    In Florida the city of North Miami had a rule in which prohibited smoking for applicants for the preceeding year.

    The Court found that this violated the civil libertites of those persons.

    If the Dept. has a vested interest in hiring and having the healthiest employees, then it follows that they have the right to regulate what you eat, drink , how you exercise and certian sexual practices.

    I would tend to agree with the Florida Suppreem court that this is a sliperly slope to other problems if government can tell you what to do in your free time especially if what they are prohibiting is legal for an adult to do.

    Two cents from a fireman.

  10. #10
    xenophon13
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I myself am a non smoker but I have to defend the smokers on this one. Telling somebody they can't be a firefighter or police officer if they smoke is like saying that you can't be one cause you're Catholic. It infringes on a persons personal rights. But I guess the words "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" are just some words on an old piece of paper that doesn't mean anything in today's world. And hey if it makes you happy to light up a cigarette then go for. If they want to make such a big deal over them make them illegal.

    ------------------
    When the defecation hits the oscillation I'll be there.

  11. #11
    Dalmatian90
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post



    I fully support the repeal of the ban on smoking.

    Contigent on the simultaneous removal of the presumption that heart & lung disabilities where caused in the line of duty.

    Go ahead and fight it out with the Workers Comp board, and if you lose, too bad -- no disability for you. Maybe you'll reduce your smoking when you can't work and have no pension to fall back on.

    (Sarcasm off.)

    This isn't government intruding into your personal life -- it's a trade. We (and we're all taxpayers) will pay for you disability for heart and lung disorders, and we won't even fight it -- just accept it.

    In exchange, we will require you don't engage in an activity which is known to carry an extreme risk of causing or significantly contributing to such disorders.

    Sounds damn fair to me.

  12. #12
    hfdfao
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    Unlike Mike, I was hired after the law went into effect, but its not a big deal, 'cause I don't smoke. That being said......

    If I work my 30 years in this 'biz(my plan), and the day after I retire I have a heart attack, in Mass. it is presumed to have been job related. The same goes for the big C. Now tell me this. If you had a law that guaranteed you protection from heart and lung related ailments forever and ever...why screw it up. This turns into a case of we are our own worst enemies. Yes I want the presumption language, but I also want to smoke too. Not me, I'll take the language every day, and twice on Tuesdays....

    My own humble opinion

    Dave


    ------------------
    May your vents be leeward, your searches be negative, and your overhaul complete......
    FTM-PTB-EGH

  13. #13
    hfdfao
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    Unlike Mike, I was hired after the law went into effect, but its not a big deal, 'cause I don't smoke. That being said......

    If I work my 30 years in this 'biz(my plan), and the day after I retire I have a heart attack, in Mass. it is presumed to have been job related. The same goes for the big C. Now tell me this. If you had a law that guaranteed you protection from heart and lung related ailments forever and ever...why screw it up. This turns into a case of we are our own worst enemies. Yes I want the presumption language, but I also want to smoke too. Not me, I'll take the language every day, and twice on Tuesdays....

    My own humble opinion

    Dave


    ------------------
    May your vents be leeward, your searches be negative, and your overhaul complete......
    FTM-PTB-EGH

  14. #14
    comwhite
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Dalmation,
    "Sounds damn fair to me."

    I agree it's fair to a point. If an applicant knows going in that the rule is in effect, then they're forewarned. I don't have a problem with that. However, keep in mind, this is the first step toward government control. What's next?

    The number one cause of tooth decay is sugar. Will you be told to restrict your diet of sugar, or lose your dental insurance?

    The number one cause of skin cancer is the sun. If you come in sunburnt, are you going to lose your cancer policy?

    The number one cause of heart attacks is stress, then cholesterol. I guess we'll just do away with firefighters and police officers then.

    It is government control, no matter how you look at. They invade the privacy of your home and your life to know you smoke. In my opinion, and I realize the Supreme Court decision is much more relevant, it violates the 4th Amendment;

    "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,..."

    If I can't smoke in my home, how secure am I, or my other freedoms?

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