Zell's Tribune rescinds smoking fee

As of January 1, the Tribune began charging employees who smoke $100 a month more for their health care. Today the new Tribune did away with the fee and plans to reimburse employees who paid it. But not their spouses:

From: Tribune Communications
Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 1:32 PM
Subject: Message from Gerry Spector/Tobacco Use Fee Rescinded

Since the closing of the going-private transaction last December, we’ve been reviewing policies and practices across the company, including Tribune’s healthcare benefits. While well-intentioned, we think the tobacco-use fee implemented by the previous management team is inconsistent with the new culture we’re developing---we’d rather you use your own judgment when it comes to tobacco use, not impose ours upon you.

This policy was a part of open enrollment last fall and took effect January 1, 2008. I’m pleased to tell you that we’re eliminating this fee effective April 28th.

If you successfully participated in the smoking cessation program, have quit and been reimbursed for all fees, then congratulations are in order. Quitting is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.

If you’re still being charged the fee, it will stop and Tribune will reimburse you 100 percent for the fees you have paid. This reimbursement will occur in late May.


Tribune will continue to offer the smoking cessation program free of charge to all employees and their covered dependents age 18 and older.

The spousal medical fee, implemented at the same time, will remain in place. We believe that if an employee’s spouse has access to coverage through his/her employer, that employer has the primary responsibility to bear the cost of coverage. Our obligation is to take care of our own employees, first and foremost.

If you have questions about the tobacco use fee, contact the Tribune Benefits Service Center at 800/872-2222.

Thanks.

Gerry


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