St. James Schools helping staff kick tobacco habit

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2014

By Stephen Hemelt

LUTCHER — Teachers and staff at St. James Parish Schools can’t get a light, but they can receive an assist in kicking the habit of tobacco use.

Superintendent Dr. Alonzo Luce said the school district’s recently installed policy states all campuses and grounds are tobacco free, adding the administration felt there was a need to help employees who regularly use tobacco.

Carol Webre, administrative director of human resources, recently told school board members some employees requested assistance kicking the habit.

“The first method of attempting to kick that habit is typically patches,” Webre said. “Patches are not something that is offered through our insurance, so as a result, it will come to the employees at whole cost.”

Webre requested — and the school board approved — splitting the cost of the tobacco patches through an arrangement worked out with St. James Parish Hospital.

“The next method after patches is actually medication, which (employees) would have to go to a doctor for, and then it would be covered under their insurance,” Webre said.

Under the policy adopted this month by the St. James Parish School Board, the school district would pay $50 toward employees requesting the tobacco patch, and the employees would pay the remaining balance, which Webre estimated “would be approximately $50.”

“We would not dispense this,” Webre said. “(The employees) would have to go to the hospital and pick it up from the hospital pharmacy.

“We’re not trying to develop any improper practices.”

Luce said when the school board changed the policy a few months ago to a tobacco-free district, officials with St. James Parish Hospital discussed the issue with school leaders.

“They were willing to give a discount on those patches for our employees,” Luce said. “Even after we got the discount, we went to the (school) board and said we want to be even more of a part of it, so we want the board to pay half the cost even after the discount.

“The employees don’t have to pay very much to attempt to kick the habit.”