County employees unhappy about saliva test

PHOENIX, March 16 (UPI) -- An Arizona county is trying to get reliable data on whether its employees are smokers by testing saliva, a move some workers are resisting.

"They gotta do what they gotta do, but it is kind of an invasion of our privacy," Dee Webber, a Maricopa County accounting employee and admitted smoker, told The Arizona Republic.


Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix and its suburbs, is not compelling employees to have their saliva tested -- but those who do not, along with those who test positive for tobacco -- will pay higher insurance premiums.

Chris Bradley, who heads the county's Business Strategies and Healthcare Program, said officials found that relying on employees to self-report that they or someone in their immediate family smokes produced data that appeared to be at odds with reality.

Some employees who say they do not smoke are leery of handing over a saliva sample. They say they fear the county can gather other information and share it with other agencies.

At least one employee of the county attorney's office said he is prepared to pay the higher insurance premium even though he does not smoke.


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