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The butt stops here; Ian M. Rolland receives the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award for his courageous stand in banning all smoking at the 3,000-employee home office of Lincoln National Corporation.

THE BUTT STOPS HERE

"The butt stopshere," proclaims Ian M. Rolland, the president of Lincoln National Corporation, an insurance holding company in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Mr. Holland isn't paraphrasing President Harry Truman's famous desk-top line just for the pun of it. Because of his genuine concern for the health of his 3,000 employees, he has banned all smoking at the home office.

Now, Rolland says,the corporation he heads can take a breath of fresh air at last--it has gone "cold turkey." To reverse an old army chestnut ("If you've got 'em, smoke 'em")--if Lincoln National employees have 'em, they can keep 'em. . . at least until they get inside the building: Smoking on the job at the home office is absolutely forbidden!

Rolland based his decision on thesolid facts insurance people are acutely aware of. "Anything that kills 350,000 Americans each year deserves decisive action," he says. "And all the brawny cowpokes and tawny-haired sirens cannot blow enough smoke to obscure the fact that one out of seven deaths in this country is linked to smoking."

Rolland further points out that thecosts related to smoking are sapping our economy. "One recent report estimated that smokers utilize the health-care system at least 50 percent more than nonsmokers," he says. "And they waste 30 minutes each workday, fumbling with matches and lighters, sucking seductive poisons. If time is to be wasted, I'd much rather it be frittered away on daydreams and chatter than flicked into a valley of ashes."

The courageous company presidentacknowledges that a ban on butts from the entire office can create serious personnel problems. "Since 25 percent of our employees smoke," he says, "we are offering them on-the-job smoking-cessation classes and counseling. Our medical office provides Nicorette, a sugarless chewing gum formulated to ease the physical withdrawal from nicotine. Most of our 3,000 home-office employees support our new policy--smokers and nonsmokers alike," he says. "But there is a querulous minority that asks why we are 'discriminating against smokers.' We're not," he states emphatically. "Our policy affects all employees. Smokers are not a protected class. No matter what their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, they cannot smoke at work."

In answer to the chargethat smokers are being subjected to the "systematic maltreatment suffered by blacks and women," Rolland says: "We are not trying to dictate personal lifestyles. We encourage our employees to stop smoking altogether, but they cannot smoke on the job. We simply cannot afford their habit."

He refers to a Congressional studyshowing that smokers cost the economy $65 billion annually in increased medical bills, premature death, and time lost from work.

"As a major participant in the fieldof health-care financing," he says, "we have an obligation to prove that, if properly conceived, a smoke-free environment is obtainable. This isn't a crusade. This is a business decision."

For his resolute stand in making thebutt stop at Lincoln National Corporation, the Saturday Evening Post Society salutes Mr. Ian M. Rolland and takes pleasure in naming him the recipient of this month's distinguished Benjamin Franklin Award.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Stoddard, Maynard Good
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Apr 1, 1986
Words:511
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