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Fred Beans goes ‘smoke-free’ for 2012

It’s official. From now on, the only smoking you’ll find at any of the 13 dealerships and numerous subsidiaries of the Fred Beans Automotive Group in southeastern PA will be from troubled vehicles that have been brought in for service.

Beginning January 1, smoking is no longer permitted inside or out at any of the company’s properties. The initiative applies to customers and vendors as well as employees.

Beth Gilbert discusses the Smoke-Free Workplace initiative that began January 1. Photo: Lynette Rosenbaum

“We feel this is the right thing to do for all of us, for several very good reasons,” says Beth Beans Gilbert, who used to smoke and knows how hard it is to quit. “Employees who smoke impact the cost of health insurance coverage for all of us, nonsmokers as well as smokers. At the operations level, we see a big loss of productivity not only to smoke breaks but also to time out of work for illnesses that are caused or aggravated by active and passive smoking.

“And even more significant, I believe, is that we appreciate the people we work with every day – not just the work they do but also the fine people they are to us and to their families. We don’t want to lose them prematurely to any of the illnesses that are directly linked to smoking. We’ve all watched that happen to some of our closest long-time co-workers, and it’s been heart-breaking.”

As a former smoker, Gilbert is especially sensitive to the pressure this move creates for smokers. She emphasizes that management has adopted the smoke-free workplace to be fair to everyone, not as a punishment. The company supports employees who are trying to quit with smoking cessation classes offered free of charge and reduced-price aids. Bowls of lollipops at cashiers’ counters are meant to help everyone curb the urge to light up.