Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tobacco-Free Hiring in Workplaces

Smokers now face another risk from their habit: it could cost them a shot at a job.

More hospitals and other medical businesses in many states are adopting strict policies that make smoking a reason to turn away job applicants, saying they want to increase worker productivity, reduce health care costs and encourage healthier living.

The policies reflect a frustration that softer efforts — like banning smoking on company grounds, offering cessation programs and increasing health care premiums for smokers — have not been powerful-enough incentives to quit.

The new rules essentially treat cigarettes like an illegal narcotic. Applications now explicitly warn of “tobacco-free hiring,” job seekers must submit to urine tests for nicotine and new employees caught smoking face termination.

This shift — from smoke-free to smoker-free workplaces — has prompted sharp debate, even among antitobacco groups, over whether the policies establish a troubling precedent of employers intruding into private lives to ban a habit that is legal.

“If enough of these companies adopt theses policies and it really becomes for difficult for smokers to find jobs, there are going to be consequences,” said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, who has written about the trend. “Unemployment is also bad for health.”
Read the rest here.


M. Jordan Lichens said...

I further think that they need to also not hire fat people or people who engage in risky sexual acts. Oh, wait, that's wrong for these hug-myself liberals. To summarize Chesterton: there is little disagreement on what we'll call evil but great disagreement on what evils we call tolerable.

Visibilium said...

A reason why such disgusting policies have traction is because of a concerted effort to raise the costs of starting a business. The costs are many--taxes, regulations, state licensing, insurance/bonding requirements--and increasing. The less opportunity for independent employment, the more reliance on employment at larger companies.

In addition, the government's promotion of concentration in other industries, such as health care insurance, insures that smokers get screwed even if they are independently employed. Should they pay an increased premium for their higher mortality probabilities? Sure, but they shouldn't be shut out of accessing the market simply because handful of government insurance pets prefer to cherry-pick their markets.