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in the news November 18, 2015

Washington Business Journal: Big Virginia retailer goes smoke-free

Virginia Tire & Auto will go smoke-free for good Nov. 19, coinciding with the American Cancer Society’s 40th annual Great American Smokeout.

The Fairfax-based auto parts and service retailer operates 12 locations throughout Northern Virginia.

Virginia Tire & Auto's smoking ban coincides with the Great American Smokeout.Virginia Tire & Auto's smoking ban coincides with the the Great American Smokeout. 

The smoking ban covers all smoking, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes anywhere on property owned, operated or managed by Virginia Tire.

Virginia Tire has 405 employees companywide, and said 22 of its employees have committed to quitting Thursday.

“I have been smoking since I was 18 years old, and with the guidance and support from Virginia Tire & Auto and my family, I decided to quit smoking cold turkey,” lead service manager Philip Costa said. "Now I look forward to telling people I’m a nonsmoker.”

Julie Holmes, Virginia Tire & Auto president, said her advice for other companies planning on implementing a smoke-free workplace policy is to give employees plenty of time to get used to the idea.

“We have been laying the foundation for this move now for about 10 months, so there was a lot of communication to our workforce,” Holmes said. “There have been a handful of people who have decided they are not willing to work in a smoke-free environment and they have decided to part ways, but we don’t see this as a bad thing. It works best when your employees and your workforce are aligned with your culture.”

Holmes said a smoke-free policy will help with keeping health care costs down, but more importantly, she expects a more healthy work environment to improve with employee recruiting and retention.

Virginia Tire offers a credit of $1,800 a year to employees enrolled in the company health plan who also abstain from tobacco.

The company has also stopped selling tobacco products at its three gas stations in Falls Church, Springfield and Fairfax.

The family-owned business will mark its 40th anniversary next year.

Visit http://www.bizjournals.com/washington/news/2015/11/17/big-virginia-retailer-goes-smoke-free.html to see the full article. 

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