It's too late for butts: a South Florida city has banned the hiring of employees who smoke or use tobacco products in an effort to save on insurance.

Delray Beach City Commissioners made official Tuesday a policy that refuses city agencies the right hire a person who has smoked in the year before employment.

The ban is meant to help save the cash-strapped city on health insurance premium fees. Human Resources director Bruce Koeser told NBC 6 that each smoker costs an extra $12,000 in health and disability-related costs.

"The idea came from our budget woes," City Commissioner Al Jacquet told WPTV. "This alone would help solve our issues."

Several other local governments already have similar policies designed to save money. Both Hallandale Beach and Hollywood require new hires to sign affidavits stating they haven't used tobacco in the last year, and in Hollywood employees caught smoking are subject to instant termination.

Broward County officials haven't banned smoking, but do require tobacco-using workers to pay an extra $20 for their insurance every two weeks.

But the nearby city of North Miami snuffed out their own ban from 1993 several years ago, finding it ultimately didn't save money and hindered recruitment. The city was also forced to fight a lawsuit from an employee who refused to sign an affidavit.

"Where do you draw the line?" Jay Wolfson, who is both a constitutional attorney and University of South Florida professor of public health, asked WPTV. "Smoking is a legal behavior and there are a lot of other legal behaviors that cause risks to the population: drinking soda, eating fatty foods, consuming alcohol, sky diving."

Flickr photo by Shannon Holman.

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  • Mindfulness

    Mindfulness training helped participants in a <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21723049" target="_hplink">2011 <em>Drug and Alcohol Dependence</em> study</a> to stay off cigarettes. That study included 88 people who smoked 20 cigarettes daily, on average, who were split up into two groups: One received four weeks of mindfulness training, while the other group went through four weeks of an <a href="http://www.ffsonline.org/" target="_hplink">American Lung Association stop-smoking program</a>. The researchers found that more of those who went through the mindfulness training smoked fewer cigarettes -- and stayed off them -- than those who went through the other stop-smoking program. The mindfulness training included <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/minding-the-body/201204/can-mindfulness-help-you-quit-smoking" target="_hplink">realizing when you're facing a craving</a>, accepting it, thinking about what's happening and then taking note of the sensation (whether it's tightness or pressure), <em>Psychology Today</em> reported.

  • Weight Lifting

    Jogging and bicycling aren't the only exercises that could help you kick the smoking habit -- <em>Shape</em> magazine reported that <a href="http://www.shape.com/latest-news-trends/study-says-weight-lifting-can-help-smokers-quit-and-lose-weight" target="_hplink">weightlifting could help</a>, too. The research, published in the journal <em>Nicotine & Tobacco Research</em>, showed that doing two hour-long weightlifting sessions for 12 weeks <em>plus</em> undergoing treatment to quit smoking was linked with greater success in quitting smoking, compared with just undergoing the stop-smoking treatment.

  • Eat Produce

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/10/fruits-vegetables-quit-smoking-smokers-tobacco_n_1581465.html" target="_hplink">Eating lots of fruits and veggies</a> could help smokers maintain a tobacco-free lifestyle, according to research from the University of Buffalo. The study, published in the journal <em>Nicotine and Tobacco Research</em>, included 1,000 smokers ages 25 and older. The researchers had the participants answer surveys about their smoking habits and their fruit and vegetable intake. Then, they followed up with them 14 months later and asked them if they used tobacco over the past month. The researchers found that there was a relationship between the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/10/fruits-vegetables-quit-smoking-smokers-tobacco_n_1581465.html" target="_hplink">amount of fruits and vegetables</a> the study participants ate, and the likelihood that they quit -- and stayed off -- tobacco. In fact, people who ate the most produce in the study were three times more likely to report that they'd been tobacco free in the previous month. The researchers also found a link between increased produce consumption and taking longer in the day to have the first cigarette, smoking fewer cigarettes, and decreased dependence on nicotine (based on test results).

  • Acupuncture And Hypnosis

    A review of studies suggests there is evidence that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/07/acupuncture-quit-smoking-hypnosis_n_1497348.html" target="_hplink">acupuncture and hypnosis</a> can work to help quit smoking, Reuters reported. Researchers, who published their findings in the <em>American Journal of Medicine</em>, said that other options -- like medications and counseling -- should be tried first, but that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/11/hypnosis-quit-smoking_n_1248444.html" target="_hplink">hypnosis</a> and acupuncture could help if those options don't work, or if people don't want to go on medications, according to Reuters.

  • Text Messages

    Who knew your phone could be used to help you quit smoking? A recent study published in the <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(11)60701-0/abstract" target="_hplink">journal <em>The Lancet</em></a> showed that smokers who enrolled in a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/05/smoking-text-message_n_888188.html" target="_hplink">program called "txt2stop"</a> -- where they received encouraging text messages to quit smoking -- were twice as likely to kick the habit after six months, compared with smokers who didn't get any encouraging messages. In the study, conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, one group was able to text words like "lapse" and "crave" to a phone number, and <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-27083_3-20075843-247/want-to-quit-smoking-try-text-message-support/" target="_hplink">received an encouraging text</a> message in return, CNET reported. The other group of people, however, only got one text message every two weeks, and that message just thanked them for being part of the study.

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