The Los Angeles Times Health Blog posted an article about how increasing numbers of employers are refusing to hire people who smoke. Happy Hospitalist should have a field day with this one, given his previous thoughts on cigarettes.
One company cited in the article doesn’t hire smokers, fires workers if they smoke during their non-work time, and even fires workers if their spouses smoke.
Researchers studying the growing trend stated that firing workers because they smoke was “not appropriate” and that “widespread adoption of such policies may make smokers nearly unemployable, cause them to lose their health insurance and affect their health and that of their families.”
News flash … smoking already does affect the ability of people to obtain health insurance and already does affect the health of patients and their families. Is there something about this concept that requires further study?
Smoking decreases productivity while workers go on “smoking breaks,” increases health care costs for employers who provide health insurance, and may affect a company’s image if customers repeatedly witness a gaggle of employees outside puffing away at the “butt hut.” If it is OK to fire workers for having drugs or alcohol in their systems – even though they are not using these substances at work – why shouldn’t employers be able to include cigarettes as well?
The authors note that smoking is a powerful addiction, but if people can’t get a job, they won’t have the money to purchase cigarettes and the problem will eventually take care of itself.
Right now, employment is a buyer’s market. There are more applicants than there are jobs, so employers can be choosy. In the future, if employers with rigid requirements are unable to find enough employees, they may need to relax their standards.
So is cigarette smoking another “right” that we need to add to the list, or are we just increasing the “nanny state” effect by micromanaging everyone’s lives?