WhiteCoat

Does Refusing to Hire Smokers Amount to “Discrimination”?

crushed-cigaretteThe 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?

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85 Responses to “Does Refusing to Hire Smokers Amount to “Discrimination”?”

  1. I like it in theory but don’t like the government controlling people’s lives. As much as I hate smokers I don’t think this is the appropriate way to help people quit (as much as I agree with the philosophy).

  2. What does a business not hiring smokers have to do with the government? Smoking is the only activity, when used as directed, kills half the people who do it.

    That’s why businesses should have a right not to hire smokers. They can’t afford to.

    • Jason says:

      Can you prove that smoking kills half the people who smoke? No, it is another example of biasness, discrimination, and false reports from the FDA. Smoking and second hand smoke has been linked to everything, yet there is no way to actually tell if the smoke or second hand smoke has been the cause of anything. Obviously there are cases where smoking is directly related to their own health problems, but indirectly related to others, is a far stretch, and is an assumption that cannot be proven. For every false report on the affects of second hand smoke, there is a report nagating the findings. People listen to the media and do no research themselves. This is a another way to discriminate, and another way for big business and government to try and micromanage our lives. It is unconstitutional.

      http://smokingaloud.com/

  3. Pink says:

    I’m all for giving business owners and employers complete autonomy; however, that pendulum swings both ways. If a business owner wants to have smoking customers (restaurant, bar, etc.), then he or she should be able to independently make that decision as well.

    • Me says:

      No, he shouldn’t He is exposing his non-smoking customers and employees (who don’t smoke) to second hand smoke. That’s like saying he shouldn’t have to remove the asbestos if he doesn’t want to.

      But, they could work somewhere else? Sorry, you have to provide for your employees safety. That’s like not providing safety equipment for coal miners

      • JMan says:

        that’s quite a stretch… it takes a lot longer to kill a waitress on the job than a coal miner. furthermore, studies are still inconclusive on the second-hand thing. no documented cases of death by second-hand smoke.

        what about a bartender with red-zone deadly alcoholism? having booze around could kill that employee. quite a stretch, right?

      • Me says:

        Second hand smoke exposure is WELL documented, not by the media by health organizations such the American Lung association, New England Journal of Medicine, national academy of sciences, university of California, EPA and among others. Anyone who says otherwise is just being stubborn and sticking their head in the sand in denial. It’s been known for decades now.

        And, no, it does take quite a while for coal dust to kill you, as well as Asbestos- which second hand smoke does as well.

        The bartender? Well, I’d hope he’s not drunk on the job, most employers wouldn’t stand for that. But just because someone gets drunk doesn’t mean they will hurt someone, but there’s no safe way to expose someone to second hand smoke.

  4. Nurse K says:

    I guess as long as it is disclosed in the employee’s work agreement, it should be okay I guess. There could be something said for a business not wanting its employees to smell like smoke at official meetings and things like that. I think there is something creepy about a business regulating an employee’s legal habits, however, and wouldn’t want to work for a business like that. It’s different if your excessive smoke breaks are affecting your work or you are smoking in an unapproved area.

    What pink said too.

  5. Nurse K says:

    Oh, and PS, Happy should realize that up until a few months ago, he was sedentary and obese with many of the same risk factors for an early death as a smoker. Many of the deaths attributed to “smoking” are cardiac in nature. Obesity kills as well, oftentimes a lot faster than smoking too. He took up exercising, which is great, but, still, maybe a little less projecting would be in order.

  6. Wanderer says:

    Discrimination? I don’t know. But this reeks of the classic nanny state being forced upon people who only want to work.

    We know smoking is bad for you. It’s been on the side of packs of smokes for like 20 years now, but people still choose to do so. I choose not to smoke. But some people do. It’s a choice. A poor choice, but a choice.

    Now a company could fire a worker due to smoking. We know that health care costs increase for smokers, productivity is lost due to smoke breaks and that it’s generally not a god thing. But where is the line drawn? Firing someone because they are obese? They eat a high-fat unhealthy diet? Yep, both of these contribute to coronary artery disease, which could have a huge impact on health care costs. How about people who drive to work? I mean they’re not out exercising and being sedentary in sitting in their cars so this is a bad thing, right?

    Sure this is a “slippery slope” argument. But really, how much should an employer control their employees lives, especially when they are NOT at work? In a perfect world, companies would hire non-smoking, healthy and fit people…but we are far from perfect!

  7. Firing smokers would be a good economic move for employers, I guess, but those unemployment benefits would take a big hit, unemployment numbers would get uglier than they are now and white coat your er would get even fuller with uninsured patients who smoke on top of it. I am smoker try to quit but not sucessfully. I’m 57 y/o zero medical hx and hike mountains on my vacation…don’t call in sick and can’t remember even the last cold I got. Am I an anomaly or just dodgong the bullet? BTW i would be willing to pay a surtax on my health insurance….I think that’s fair.

  8. Wonderland says:

    How can they fire someone for having a spouse that smokes? You can’t force your significant other to quit. That’s ridiculous.

  9. SumDood says:

    Should it depend on *what* the employee in question is smoking? What if they are (or their spouse is) smoking marijuana? Should that be allowed? Is that justifiable grounds for immediate termination? If the answer is different depending on whether they’re smoking marijuana or tobacco, why?

    Tobacco smoking benefits no one (except those selling it, of course). Unlike tobacco, marijuana has actually been shown to have a beneficial use, but is illegal. Should our judgements on employees (& their spouses), and, more importantly, our justifications for firing them depend on the legality of the harmful behavior they are engaging in?

    What if they’re smoking, I don’t know… cloves? How about herbal cigarettes? What if they’re smoking the Prozac pills they were legally prescribed?

    • Drugsarebad says:

      Marijuana has NOT been approved by the FDA for ANY MEDICAL USES, BECAUSE IT DOESN’T HAVE ANY. Marijuana contains 3x the tar of nicotine. You’re a drug addled addict. There is a reason marijuana is a schedule 1 drug.

  10. ladyk73 says:

    Geeeeck! I really hate the idea of any employer being “big brother.” Simply make smoking “illegal” on the company grounds..including parking lots. If some dude seems to be missing for half the day (walking off grounds to smoke)…well there you go.

  11. DocV says:

    People smoke.

    Nicotine is addictive.

    Thus smokers become addicts.

    Addicts are considered disabled.

    Doesn’t the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibit job and hiring discriminiation?

    (All said with tongue firmly in cheek)

    • Me says:

      Don’t think they do for people who self-inflict it on themselves. Just like you wouldn’t get worker’s comp for intentionally injuring yourself

      • meme says:

        I have to I disagree…I had a uncle who was given disability because he had cirrhosis of the liver that he inflicted on himself through yrs of alcohol abuse…as a matter of fact our wonderful disability system gave him a 800.00 check a month for the past 2 yr…and guess what he was basically rewarded for his self inflicted problem…as a matter of fact he spent his final 2 yrs drinking himself literally to death, all with the help of our wonderful system….

      • Billie says:

        I feel it is discrimination, and the government is just trying to control everyone. I do understand not smoking inside and have designated smoking areas. If companies want people to quit then they should offer to get them help because they are usually addicted. And about your uncle I’m sure he didn’t intend on becoming an alcoholic and drinking himself to death, that’s how my father died. Just like smokers probably never intend to smoke their entire lifes they just like to do it and then it turns into an everyday activity. It’s like a weakness like a fat person wants food, smokers want their cigarette.

  12. Strong One says:

    AMEN
    I second the notion that we should reap what we sow. Don’t educate or instruct your patient to not smoke and proceed to tell them how bad smoking is to your health right after you just had a cigarette break.
    Grr.

  13. SeaSpray says:

    Excuse me?! Surely you jest! Discriminate against a potential hire because their SPOUSE smokes? Give me a break!!

    1. Then perhaps companies shouldn’t hire people that don’t use green (environmentally safe) cleaning products? “WHAT do you clean your toilet bowl with? You inhale that you know. You use THOSE cleaning products! Are you aware that they are being absorbed through your skin and your are inhaling said products? Do you know what is going on in your lungs even as we speak?!”

    2. Oh wait! They may want to discriminate against anyone who can’t hover commute over traffic like the Jetsons (old cartoon), otherwise they are inhaling all that carbon monoxide from tail pipe exhausts while sitting in traffic. And oh my gosh the cumulative effect of sitting in traffic will certainly exacerbate the effects of stress in your system. I suppose they should only hire non commuters, people within walking distance ..well because walking is a healthy alternative to driving.

    3. Certainly ..no one using a cell phone or constantly exposed to EMF waves should be hired.. all that potential radiation mixing around in your body.

    4. Medical history? Too many CTs/x-rays.(see #3)

    5. You paint,strip your own molding and stain it yourself. More carcinogens!

    6. What did you have for dinner last night?

    7. And so just how much alcohol do you and your spouse drink?

    8. And your spouse uses a lawnmower AND a snow thrower?

    9. Hair dye? Carcinogens!

    10. Well Water? You drink well water?

    I envision a universal checklist used by HR… an as in golf..the lower the number..the better.

    11. You golf? Hmm risk factor for being hit with a 4 iron or golf ball to the head and subsequent head CT… gotta watch those sand traps…

    I think it is wrong to discriminate because a SPOUSE does something. Does it matter if they smoke outside? Or is it about the health insurance.

    I don’t want to live in a big government police state.

    * I read that when in traffic-use your recirculate air to prevent inhaling the exhaust from the vehicles around you.

  14. June says:

    I’m a bit late on this one, but I do think that hospitals in particular have a better reason than most business for refusing to hire people who will reek of smoke. People can’t choose not to go there, and they can’t leave when they realize they are being cared for by someone whose miasma of smoke is making them feel worse. One of the less pleasant nights I’ve experienced was when I was admitted to a respiratory care unit following a severe asthma attack. The tech caring for me reeked of cigarette smoke. I don’t understand why people who are likely to be hypersensitive to smoke residue should be placed in that situation.

  15. R says:

    Um, isn’t “discrimination” treating someone differently based on something they can’t change? You can’t choose to be black, or a women, or (some would argue) gay. But you can choose to smoke. And yes, quitting may be hard, but it’s a lot easier than quitting being black …

  16. Rb says:

    Yes it does. Its not right because as long as it is not effecting the rate at which the worker works why should it be a problem. And if the companies are having such a big deal about it then they should offer an alternative option to not smoking. The companies are protecting themselves when they should be protecting the company and the workers. The workers are being discriminated against because they can say I am not going to hire you but I think that having an alternative option. But of course they won’t.

  17. robbie hatfield says:

    You anti-smokers are retards. You seem to have the impression that everyone would live forever if there were no smoking period. I wonder how many of you morons drive to fast, are fat, drink too much, are predisposed to contract terminal illnesses via heredity, etc. etc. etc.

    Now I’m going to try and say this slowly so you idiots can comprehend it..

    EVERYBODY LOSES WHEN RIGHTS ARE RESTICTED.

    E V E R Y B O D Y ! !

    The rights of non-smokers have been addressed with smoking bans in public places. Enough already you pint-sized Nazis..

    • Tom says:

      Thank u my friend what is our world coming too? Are we really this ignorant and going to allow workplaces and government to tell us all what we can or cannot do? does andyone remember the NAZIs????? Now with this smoking thing what will happen is in 100 years everyone will have to take a DNA test to see what you are predispositioned to have as far as cancers, heart disease, mental illness what so have you and then you wont be hired on that basis because you are prone to this or that? Why cant we just fricken work, fix our government, stop wearing our emotions and feelings on our sleeves and pull ourselves up by the big boy pants and WORK! Life is too damn short to be worried about this crap. Do you all really think your going to live forever? Jeez ppl get a damn grip. I hope we dont hire any more fat asses, diabetics, cancer patients, ex smokers, etc, oh yeah thats right at some point we all may have one of these issues and guess what if you agree with the smoking ban then you have to agree with being fired when you have diabetes weigh 400lbs and have breast cancer. All because you cost the company too much for insurance and some clueless manager who sits behind their desk and car seat for more hours than you work and who is more prone to heart disease frrom sitting on their ass is going to fire you and tell u have a good day! Can we not see the slippery slope we are playing with here cmon man!! people wake the hell up and mind your own damn businesses. This all is getting to be too much, is this what we want our society to be??? people had better start waking up or you will wake up when the nanny govt wakes u up or your overseeing boss with their camera in your house to make sure you follow all rules havent we seen the movies on this guys and gals???? WAKE UP PEOPLE! do you want to control your life or someone else? by majority of this thread sounds like people want to be told what to do instead of just being truly free! this is all about money, insurance companies, and not how to get americans back to work, fixing real problems, for real people, this is all about some jackass with a money scheme again. Follow if you dare but dont complain when the heard mantality catches up to you and the heard gets nabbed by the wolves!!!

  18. Iam0z says:

    I remember a time when insurance companies pushed to get laws on the books for minimum liability coverage on all automobiles prior to being registered. Ok, fine. still got uninsured motorists out there, but very few. Now it seems insurance companies are putting the pressure on companies by hiking the price of health insurance to the point where it’s nearly unaffordable. Then, seeing as how in most places the company pays at least half the rates for an employees health insurance, the insurance companies make them an offer that, if all their employees are smoke free, then they’ll cut them a huge break in insurance prices. Next thing you know they find a way to rid themselves of all employees that smoke. Health insurance prices go way down and i wonder if the company is still paying half and if so is the price they charge for the product or service they provide reduced? Or do they still charge the same and the owner(s) sticks the extra bucks in their pockets? Makes me wonder, who is really running this country? The government or the insurance companies?

  19. Iam0z says:

    Sooner or later we are going to witnessing a monumental war between the insurance comapnies and Big Tobacco. I wonder who will win.

  20. verhoeven says:

    Everybody in the world has stopped smoking. What do you see one year from now?

    hmm where does the lost cigarette tax money (billions) come from now?

    Who really cares, we are heading for the New World Order and everybody will
    be controlled by the government. Enjoy what little freedoms you have now.

    • James says:

      Verhoven, you are misled to think that the government has made a policy or rules that speak of this kind of discrimination or ethic.
      It is the corporation righting rules into people’s lives because they can when you sign their terms of agreement.
      What happens if you disagree…
      No Job
      This is a tragedy, how can we tell another person how to live their lives. This isn’t government, it is a corporate citizen enslaving us to their terms.
      WAKE UP
      And get off your blind rocking chair as you go to sleep, dreaming of the day when you could go ride your bike in the street. Nope can’t do that anymore to risky, if I do my company will fire me…
      This gross abuse is close at hand and just because people think government is bad. Government is the only thing that can protect you against this malfeasance.
      Wake up
      The bell is ringing, its your mother. Don’t ruin her government, she needs it to live.

    • Me says:

      Hmm, well for one thing, the tax money would be gone yes, but that doesn’t nearly equal the health care costs for smokers.

      Eventually, we’d have people living longer healthier lives, which could potentially cost more than it did with smokers dying early- according to the new England Journal of Medicine. But, the simple solution to this is to raise the retirement age.

  21. gavin says:

    Not hiring me because i smoke and testing me for nicotine is to me on the same level as giving a woman a pregnancy test and denying her the job if she was pregnant. I can see an employer firing me if im going out for a smoke break every 30 minutes as many of my coworkers have been, but i dont do that and i use deodorant so not to offend anyone, why should i be denied a job. quite frankly however though some customers would be appalled at the smell of smoke im sure they would be even more offended by me without a cigarette for my 8 hour shift. also the us government hiked taxes for tobacco products TO GO TOWARDS HEALTHCARE. thus the insurance companies are getting money on my behalf as a smoker(This is the reason employers state that they wont hire me is because they have to pay an insurance premium)if they can’t ask your sexual orientation, what religion you are, etc they should not be able to discriminate against you because you choose a lifestyle that includes nicotine intake after all it’s not like it’s illegal!!!!

    and a final note, there’s a new trend called the electronic cigarette that’s simply nicotine infused water that’s subsequently turned into a vapor, this removes all carcinogens and the 4,000+ chemicals in cigarettes and thus all health risks but ill still be turned down for using it based on health insurance that i wont be applying for

  22. Varsara says:

    was discussing this with some friends and this seems to be the general thinking among us. mind you this isnt my writing but taken from a forum i frequent.

    Right now, it seems employers are treating their employees – the ones they are always telling that they’re looking out for them – as expendable. They are dictating to employees all kind of things, including which chemicals they can put in their bodies. The antismoking thing they are attributing to the health insurance cost, but will not waive it if the employee is willing to waive the health insurance. Why is the health insurance carrier more important to the employer than the employee? Why can’t the employer tell the insurance carrier, “Nope, sorry, we are not going with any carrier that discriminates against nicotine addicts. That would not be fair to our employees.”? Why is it ok, at all, for an employer to test for ANYTHING that is not illegal? They are not testing to see if I have had alcohol in the past year – and far more costly hazards occur from its abuse. They are not testing to see what my blood sugar has been in the past three months (and I know this one is possible) to see if I am a diabetic on self-destruct. Maybe I should stop now, before I give them pricks any ideas. Why is the insurance carrier more important than the person who jumps through innumerable hoops every single day to remain their employee?

    On a side note, there was a state that fined state employees(maybe it was a city/county I forget), they had to pay 25 a month or so if they smoked to cover the costs. It was allowed. They tried to then fine overweight people. Everyone went apeshit. this is a total load of crap in my eyes.

  23. theseyes says:

    I would like to say that yes I am a smoker of cigarettes, I just started a job today which I was in for the interview last week, note: had several cigs on the way in to the interview, sprayed my spray on me, washed my hands and applied lotion before entering the interview, got the job on friday evening, started work their this morning, worked all day took my 1 hour lunch break, did spray, washed hands etc. Went back to work, took my assigned break in afternoon, outside smoked 1 cigarette, went into bathroom with soap, febreeze ritual, finished my day and was just excited. Got home after work, recvd.a phone call stating the employer had a problem with the smell of ME, and that either I not smoke before or during my breaks while in my vehicle and not on their premises and wait till after work.. HMMMM… I had to tell them to SHOVE IT.. I am a hard working mother, I dont drink, I dont drive fast, I never in my life would have ever dreamed that this would happen, I have been so upset and then my husband told me when he came home, forget it, you dont want to work for PEOPLE like that..

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe they don’t like you because you come back from every break smelling like a Febreeze factory that has exploded while a lotion factory also exploded?

  24. Julie says:

    Not hiring or firing someone because they smoke is discrimination at its worst and a double standard at its best. When folks target any group for alienation or rejection it’s called discrimination. Companies are looking for young, healthy, traditional people so if you don’t easily fall into that category, say you’re a smoker, toker, fat, gay, atheist, disabled or a person of color, and over 40, or don’t watch football, you better have a solid plan of action or start your own business. It’s called being marginalized folks. But don’t worry – take your meds – because that’s okay!

  25. Cameron says:

    I`m a 40 year old male, just finished a 25 year pack a day smoking habit. Haven`t had a smoke for 4 months and don`t intend to smoke ever again. But I have been a manager in my company for 10 years and have hired and fired for about the same. You cannot legally discriminate against a smoker. You can force distinct breaks with no exceptions and let them make their own bed, Most will fall into accordance but the few that don`t you have grounds for disipline. It usually takes a couple of verbal warnings and a written warning to validate a dismissal. Anyway,smoke `em if you got `em, you do have that right but if you are reading this be sensible at work. Productivity is always recognized.

    • Me says:

      Yes you can “legally discriminate” against a smoker. Smokers are NOT a protected class, like race, age, etc is. If there are no laws in your state against it, you can- it’s that simple.

  26. Sandy says:

    Hey, Let’s not hire fat people because they eat to damn much and our insurance goes up because their health is bad.

  27. chainsmoker says:

    what if i desided not to hire women because they could get pregnant and miss a year of work? or drinkers because if they come to work with a hang over their unprductive? or gays because aids cost a fortune to insure. or people who eat meat? or skinny people because their bone break easily? or people who talk on the cell phones to much? or people with kids, or fat people etc?
    Let these companies dig their own grave! like L3 Communications did when they fired their best sr mechanics for smoking in their cars during break.

  28. ashley says:

    Worthless article. Does not offer any discrimination laws or acts that backs any information up. Opinion based.

  29. [...] Does Refusing to Hire Smokers Amount to ‘Discrimination’?, in Emergency Physicians Monthly, 11 February 2010. [...]

  30. tim from akron ohio says:

    Whats next,if you eat fastfood and drink soda they won’t hire you. How about drive a gss guzzling air poluter to commute, who is killing who here????

  31. Meg says:

    I don’t think it’s ok for employers to not hire smokers BUT I think it is well within their rights to deny the right to a smoke break or prohibit smoking on their property – which might then have the same effect as denying employment.

  32. Mark says:

    Things are getting really tough for smokers in the employment sector. A friend of mine who works in Respiratory was fired from a hospital after a 5 month job search, because she had nicotine in her system–what’s next using genetic testing to exclude job applicants???

    • JMan says:

      yup. they have a right to do what they want and we have a right not to apply? right? that’s how they get away with drug-testing. or discriminating against people with chronic pain.

      and we have the right as the people to enact laws that prevent wild west business practices. i think conservatives think it’s unconstitutional or something for people to use legal democratic avenues.

  33. Guiac says:

    I believe Clinton passed a law prohibiting genetic discrimination – though I would have to double check that. Anyways something genetic would be covered under Disablity Act since you can’t really change it.

    No hiring or firing workers for smoking is quite legal, maybe not ethical, but clearly within employers rights

    • JMan says:

      not true. businesses get away with it because it’s sort of a non-issue. people can take legal action against businesses, it’s just really expensive. eventually big tobacco’s going to set up a case, the issue will be publicly addressed, and smokers everywhere will light up in rejoice!

  34. Whatever says:

    I hate how non-smokers believe that they are above and better than smokers. It is hard enough quitting with all these patronizing comments: oh you are doing the right thing, its not that hard (bs you never went through the same thing; people who have rarely say anything) and a whole bunch of other comments. Sure, its unhealthy – some may say suicide – to smoke. But its not your decision, its the decision of the smoker. Should businesses not hire smokers? Sure its unhealthy but what is next? Would you have to go to a job hiring with your whole genome mapped out? OH I am sorry Mr Smith, but you have a mutation in your 14th chromosome that can lead to a deadly disease, we can’t afford to hire you. Ever hear of a government allowing businesses not to hire people based off of a simple aspect of their lives? Yeah, 1930s Germany.

    • Me says:

      Well, I think we are more wise than smokers. Since most smokers start in their teens are told by current and former smokers how horrendously hard it is to quit once you start. We actually listened to those warnings, and because of it, we don’t have a health ruining (and sometimes property damaging) habit because of it. You wouldn’t be going through if you actually listened to reason when you needed to.

      That mutation in your 14th chromosome is NOT your fault, but your habit is.

  35. JMan says:

    who cares if someone smokes? you don’t have to marry them. it’s their choice. like what they eat or the activities they are involved with outside of work. or the cologne they wear…

    businesses have the right to restrict workers from smoking in uniform, smoking at the place of business, and smoking during paid breaks. is that not enough? enforce it then. employers choosing only non-smokers, as policy, is the similar to only choosing non-motorcyclists for employment. or non-mcdonalds-eaters. all can be hazardous to your health. smokers and motorcyclists not being ‘protected groups’ should not be exempt from the term ‘discrimination.’

    we already give them access to our bodily fluids for the purpose to checking for perceptive-changing chemicals, which is invasive enough. we let them cover up tattoos, color your hair, and take off jewelry. why let them tell us if we can smoke a cigarette or eat fatty foods or ride motorcycles or practice martial arts or have sex without a condom or rock-climb outside the job.

    if you ask me, it’s situations like this that make me appreciate a well-oiled democracy and the people who stand up for workers’ rights and labor in general. where in the hell do people get the idea that business and money have inherent rights over people and lives?

    those of you who ‘hate smokers,’ you are judgmental, insecure, bad people. i’m glad i don’t know you…

    and for the record, i don’t smoke…

  36. Tom says:

    As soon as they’re done beating down all of the smokers, they will go after the drinkers. It is no different.

  37. Chris says:

    How are smoke breaks any different than a regular employee break? It’s as if you’re saying that smoke breaks take away from work ethic but as far as I know, other non smoking employees arent working on their breaks either. So youre logic in the argument above is very very flawed.

    And to those who “hate” smokers, you don’t hate smokers, you hate RUDE smokers. I’m a smoker, but I do it in my own car, not in a public atmosphere and I don’t throw my cigarette butts out onto the ground. You may hate smoking, but how can you judge smokers as a whole? It’s no different than judging any other selectively chosen class of citizens.

    If this employers can legally discriminate against smokers. Where do you draw the line? So you’re telling me it would be okay to not hire someone based soley on the fact that they drink alcohol, have weight issues, past poor health conditions or because you just don’t like their apperance. How superficial is it going to get for business in America?

    I have to be honest, if an employer told me they couldn’t hire me because I was a smoker, I’d point out all their flaws and see how they take it. Probably not to well, since I do an efficient job of undermining idiots.

    Has anybody thought about all the smoking related deaths in America every year? Pretty high number right? Imagine this anti smoking movement succeeding, and the number of smoking related deaths in the U.S. declining dramatically. How would an increase in population affect the unemployment rate, energy consumption, crime rate, and our overall debt as a country. Im guessing all those numbers would go up. I’m not saying these numbers would increase dramatically but they would change.

    Nobody thinks about that though, because all they can think about is their own agenda.

    • Infinite Spiral says:

      Did you actually say that it’s good for the country to have people dying from smoking? I don’t want to dig into that line-of-thought too deeply, but I do disagree with one specific leap in logic that you made: You assumed a link between population and unemployment rate, crime rate, and national debt. One of the largest expenses in this country is health care. One of the biggest impediments to job creation and self-sufficient living is taxes. A significant amount of crime is committed to provide for substances to which someone is addicted and by people that are desparate. By your pseudo-logic, we should actually encourage people to smoke as much as possible. That would lower crime, reduce our dependance on foreign oil, lower our unemployment rate, and solve our debt crisis. Good plan!

  38. Bob says:

    I call it micromanaging! Working for big brother! This is getting extremely out of hand. it is not the employer’s business about what goes on outside of work!

  39. Stacie says:

    So I smoke, I can’t get a job at at least 3 area hospitals because I smoke, I don’t take extra breaks to smoke and wouldn’t smoke near patients. When I was working I paid my higher insurance premium for being a smoker, didn’t have a problem with it? So I am overweight, but not obese. Obesity is self-inflicted harm just like smoking. I drink but not on nights when I would work the next day (and I’m of age). So since obesity could also cause health risks shouldn’t those people also be discriminated against? For those who say smoking is a disability, isn’t obesity too? So I guess I should smoke, drink and get fatter so I can collect unemployment because it sounds like that is encouraged. Then when I’m in the hospital America’s taxpayers can pay for my lowlife jobless self to be there and be taken care of my non-smoking workers!

    • Check please says:

      Smoker: Congratulations on being a future cash cow! You will become one of the cancer patients that take up an expensive hospital bed, helping financially support multiple other hospital departments for quarterly reports to come.

    • Kathy says:

      I totally agree with you Stacie! This other guy that replied needs to hush! lol

  40. Kathy says:

    Not hire people that smoke? Who has that right to take that away? What about those who drink? Don’t hire those that drink!! Drinking is just as bad as smoking…..like DUI’s and killing your liver as well as smoking killing your lungs. I can say that I hate people who drink but I don’t, that is your choice to drink..same for smoking. I understand smoking is limited in public places but to not hire one that smokes is discrimination – the same should be for drinkers!

  41. Infinite Spiral says:

    How about the fact that employers shouldn’t be providing “health care” in the first place? How’s that for stopping the “Nanny State” problem, the socialist problem, and the concerns about hiring a person that chooses to kill themselves. Employers should be able to prohibit any toxic substance from being used in the workplace, but legal use of any substance in one’s private time should not prevent employment – THAT is discrimination as clearly as it can be stated . . . “I won’t hire you because I don’t like your (unrelated to your job) behavior”. How is that different than not hiring someone that likes to grow squash in their garden or milk cows in their spare time? Now, on a more direct note, at least use the very real statistics that show smokers are more likely to be sick, not show up for work, waste more time while at work, etc . . . but then lump in every other demographic that meets those same criteria (like teenagers). Nanny State, indeed . . ..

  42. blah says:

    I’m a nurse, and I don’t think they should fire existing employees for smoking but I am 100% for them not hiring new smokers. There are enough people visiting the hospitals with cigarette smoke on their clothes & in their hair… hospital employees should not be part of the problem. Also, for people that say they don’t smoke before or during work… most are lying. Most hospital shifts are 12 hours, and you get there 15-30 minutes early. For someone to shower, get ready, commute, work a 12 hour shift, and leave the hospital campus before lighting up would put them going around 14 hours without a cigarette. Also, I have worked at a hospital where it was not allowed to take a smoke break & smoking was prohibited on the grounds… and EVERY smoker that I knew (which was a lot), left the hospital got in their cars and drove off just to smoke. Those little trips took at least 12 minutes and they usually took 2 or 3 of them. They all did this knowing that if they were caught, that they could lose their jobs.

    If you are a nurse, you know that if you just took 12 minutes 2-3 times a day to go sit in the break room… you would probably be fired, but since these smokers are not visible most people assume they are just in patients rooms. —– SO NO, I don’t think health-care institutions should hire smokers. I would not fire them if they worked there before the rule went into place NOR would I fire employees due to what their spouses did.

    If employees smoke, they usually smell like smoke, maybe not to people working with them… but they come really close to patients and patients can smell it. Patients in the hospital shouldn’t be exposed to smoke at all. Smokers take unfair breaks that non-smokers do not take. And lastly people working in the health-care profession should be examples of good health as much as possible. There are otherwise healthy people that are overweight for other reasons- uncommon but possible. BUT smoking is never healthy, and it effects people around you… not just you.

    For those health-care workers that do actually go 14 hours and not smoke – good for you! But you are the minority not the majority.

    • midwest woman says:

      12 minute 2 to 3 breaks would be fireable? Assuming a 12 hour shift, that would translate into 24 to 36 minutes of sit down time. And the bad part of that is?

  43. Dallas Gal says:

    This is a move to pressure businesses to adopt the same non-smoking policy. Healthcare insurance companies want to lower costs by only covering the healthy – maximize premium income and minimize payments for care. Next target is obesity…which is why insurance companies adopted the unrealistic BMI in 1986 when America “suddenly” became obese. BMI is the standard eventhough research shows people who are overweight by 20 lbs are actually healthier than the BMI “normal”. Unrealistic standards of weight enables companies to receive a surcharge…for the smokers that $650 more a month in premiums! Next will be people with high cholesterol and then genetic markers for disease.

  44. Anna says:

    I think that is a persons right to smoke, I am a smoker and I am a hard worker never let my smoking effect my work its so stupid. I know I will probably have a bunch of people wanting to preach to me how bad smoking is for my heath and everyones health. But that is my right people have been smoking for year and not to hire someone because they smoke is a bunch of B.S!

  45. al says:

    it is not an employers right to discriminate against a smoker. Maybe if you are hitler, but not if you have any MORAL scrupels will you do such a thing…most companies and buisnesses are greedy, treat their help like dogs and slaves and oppress them with all the self rightous arrogant rules for the employers benefit of course and most of their concerns and actions stemming around smokers is only for their finacial benefits concerning deductions in premiums, ins. reasons for themselves of course, whom are you trying to kid anyways????

  46. James S says:

    Due to the employers market they can do what they want for the most part. Upon saying that Discrimination is the same no matter how you look at it. I was told today that I could not apply for a job because I smoke. According to the hr manager it was due to a state law on which i am having her e-mail all info on. An employer should not be considered an equil opertunity employer if they will not consider a smoker for a position. Also on the breaks everyone is entitled to breaks so i dont see the diferance if i use mine to smoke or sit in a break room and get fat. I realize that it may cost the employer more to insure a smoker over a non but maybe they should look at situational insurance in which the cost is determined by the overall health of the person instead of the group they fall into. I know we are a society that follows the masses and the only way something like this is going to get changed is eather we smokers fight together.

  47. bob stinnett says:

    I can understand some industries or positions where smoking should not be allowed, but firing someone for what they do at home or away from work that is a legal act? And furthermore has no impairing effects on performance! DANGER,DANGER…

  48. Anonymous says:

    To put a definitive end to this:

    Unless you’re a protected class like disabled, veteran, etc etc then an employer is allowed to discriminate in their hiring practices as much as they want.

    Smokers are not a protected class. “Equal opportunity” doesn’t apply. Don’t like it: find somewhere else to work.

    Fin.

  49. Smoker rights says:

    What next? Are we not going to hire fat people too, or fire them if they have a job that requires them to sit on their butt all day and therefore they become fat while on the job. Fat people are Also a health risk to companies whether you are working at a desk or out in the community. so every time a ft person has to eat something at his desk and let’s the phone ring more than once before answering it because he/she is swallowing their twix bar or soda is that not taking time away from the company. My company tells the reps you have to answer the phone on the first ring. Hard to do if you are stuffing your face or in the bathroom every half an hour because you are obese. Come on people get real!!! Most companies allow break times and that’s when people that smoke… Smoke. If you aren’t a smoker that doesn’t mean you can’t step away from your desk to take a breather. If you don’t feel like breathing in the smoke, and your Jo has a smoking area, then stay the heck away from it. I think it’s discrimination. Yes smoking is a choice but so is eating to much until you can’t see your feet when standing up. That doesn’t mean at a job application for a customer service position you tell a fat person well sorry you are overweight and we don’t hire fat people. I had a company one time ask me if I was a smoker. I said yes and they said well thanks for your time but we don’t hire smokers. After letting the employer have an earful, well let’s just say I hope that they checked every little thing in their office for hocked up mucus. Lol. It’s not right… What they should have said was well this is a smoke free environment so if you are interested in the position you will need to look into quitting, not we don’t hire smokers.

  50. Barbara says:

    Total discrimination and harrassment!!! I have not smoked a tobacco cigarette in 1 1/2 years, but because I use an electric cigarette and it has nicotine I cannot get a good job!! Why don’t they focus more on alcohol? Oh yea, I forgot, alcohol is acceptable and smoking is not. Alcohol kills people too. So does obesity, but yet these people have no problems getting jobs. What I do on my own time is my business, not a company I work for. This country is going to hell!! We have no freedom anymore. If you are going to test for nicotine in somebody’s system they should check for alcohol also. I thought everybody was supposed to be treated equal in this country?? Total discrimination and should be illegal!! If nothing else, these companies should make the employees carry their own insurance if they are so worried about their healthcare costs!!!

    • bwyou812 says:

      Need the alcohol for company parties!! Guess they care about your lungs, but your liver is OK!!!!
      If a company is more interested whether you smoke than your job skills than I’ll work for someone else. If there is a no smoking policy on property while working, I would respect that. But don’t manage or control my life!!

  51. Lori says:

    I have smoked for 15 years and have not missed a day of work because of it.

  52. schrodinger says:

    Now, employers are testing for ANY form of nicotine and have been known to deny employment based on a positive nicotine test, whether the person actually smokes or not. This applies if the person uses an e-cigarette or some other form of nicotine like chewing tobacco, snus, snuff, or anything else. Even if the person is using nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, etc. to quit smoking, they will still be denied employment. Doesn’t matter if a doctor prescribed it– ANY form of a positive nicotine test would be grounds for denial of employment. The person may have been smoke and tobacco free for months thanks to the cessation aids and be on a step-down dose, but they can still be denied a job over their nicotine replacement therapy. “THAT” is just wrong, and is as wrong as denying or firing a person because of the (legal) behavior of someone else in their home.

  53. altoids says:

    So where does that put the people who use E-CIGs, as there are not any conclusive studys done yet on the benifits of that. I was a 2 pack a day smoker and stopped altogether been almost a year since a real one. I can run and play again with my kids My wife loves the fact I dont stink.

    So just because I use a nicotine substance I can be stopped from providing for my family. Thats outragous and cant belive people allow this to happen. Where does it all end when will people stand up to unfair practices of companies that are allowed to do this.

  54. bwyou812 says:

    plenty of alcohol at the company picnics!!!!!!

  55. bpn76 says:

    Why stop at cigarettes? Should we refuse to hire people who do not abstain from alcohol, have more than 10% body fat, glucose blood sugar over 100, have herpes, have multiple sex partners, and play amateur contact sports? The number of foolish, bad, or dangerous, and yet still legal life choices are almost limitless. Should businesses and government discriminate against them all when pushed by special interest groups?
    These are rhetorical questions of course. The point I am trying to illustrate is that it just wrong to tell people they can not pursue their own legal interest (or do what makes them happy) when they are not at work.

    • Neil says:

      Great point bpn76. Among the generation of today’s children, more will die from obesity and malnutrition than from smoking. Every time you try to convince lard-ass America that the way it eats is unnatural, unnecessary, and on the same level health-wise as smoking, it has a tantrum. People need smoking as a scapegoat to make them feel better about their own unhealthy habits.

      There is nothing more noble or responsible about preferring booze, lard, or coffee to cigarettes or illegal substances. They are all unhealthy. We are way too random about we let kill you.

      I find this unbelievably childish on the part of these employers. There is something to be said for employers not wanting their staff to smell like cigarettes at work, especially if they work in customer service, but firing someone who consumes a legal product outside of work (or someone whose spouse does) is discrimination, clear and simple. Private enterprises should be allowed to discriminate, but as a former smoker who actually has a hard time being around it, I would refuse to work for any of these employers, as I don’t like the precedent.

      Btw, in Canada, where I live, this would violate labour laws and be considered discrimination.

  56. NOT HAPPY says:

    WE ALL KNOW THAT PEOPLE DONT LIKE SMOKERS. BUT THE ECONOMY IS BAD ENOUGH YOU CANT GET A JOB THEN THEY WONT HIRE YOU BECAUSE YOU SMOKE THIS IS SO NOT FAIR. I BELIEVE THAT FAT PEOPLE, ALCOHOLICS, POT HEADS, ALL SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO GET A JOB EITHER IT IS ALWAYS THE SMOKERS BUT A DRINKER IS KILLLING THEIR LIVER A FAT PERSON IS A CARDIAC RISK SO TO ME THE GOVERNMENT IS IN DEEP TROUBLE FOR PASSING LAWS LIKE THIS. SO I GUESS YOUR SUPPOSE TO JOIN THE HOMELESS ON THE STREET BECAUSE SOMEONE WONT HIR YOU BECAUSE YOU SMOKE. WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO???????????????????????

  57. Aesop says:

    Employer wins.

    You have no “right” to a job with me or anyone else.
    If I’m an employer, I can refuse to hire you because you’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny. Or because you shake hands like your hand’s numb, or you have dirty fingernails, or ride a unicycle, or play the accordion. Or whatever else I deem a good reason why I don’t want to hire you, provided I’m not enforcing a policy in direct opposition to EEOC guidelines about race, sex, age, etc.

    If you’re quite a catch, someone else will hire you. If you’re not, they won’t. And if times are tight, you’ll adapt, or you’ll starve.

    And if I’m out of pocket for health coverage for your spouse and kids, and they’re both at risk for additional health problems, by either or both adults smoking, you’re SOL. Because it’s my nickel, so it’s my party.

    Don’t like it?
    Find an employer who doesn’t cover your health care, or your spouse, or your children’s, and therefore doesn’t care what you do.
    If they suck up all the excellent employees who smoke, maybe they’ll run me out of business. That’s a risk I take in making my policy.
    Only if I demanded you financially subsidize my stupid business policies even if I didn’t hire you would you have any grounds for whining.

    Welcome to life in Grown Up Land.

    No one’s taking anything away from applicants.
    They can freely smoke. They can freely apply for and hold down a job.
    But they can’t do both.

    Both of which are independent choices, requiring a simple decision on the applicant’s part. Telling you there’s a cliff on your right, and a bridge on your left, isn’t the same thing as pushing you off the cliff, nor forcing you at gunpoint to cross the bridge. You can choose to do neither, or one, or the other. Just not all of the above.

    That this discussion is even necessary argues for flogging educators from K-PhD for dumbing down the critical thinking standards once common among middle-schoolers.

  58. Lucritius says:

    This is the begging of a civil war. With background checks, credit checks, drug tests for nicotine, etc.

    Can’t you people see that this isn’t about safety, this is about taking your individual rights to chose your lifestyle. You are not allowed to live a certain way now, lest you have to resort to crime so that you can afford to live how you want to live.

    Where do we draw the line??? This is getting ridiculous! I’m so close to saying screw America, I’m starting to think there is no turning back; it died when the forefathers did. In this little NAZI utopia, there will be a massive amount of people who will be forced to collaborate and destroy the government and businesses that dictate how we are suppose to live our lives.

    The forefather’s would be rolling in their graves if they knew that you people hated freedom so much; they’d be rolling in their graves as they find out slowly that liberty has taken a back seat to bottom-line profit. This country is capitalism first (greed), then maybe the Constitution (freedom). That’s funny, I kind of figured the forefather’s thought that my freedoms trump your wallets.

    Silly me.

    • Peebles says:

      “I kind of figured the forefather’s thought that my freedoms trump your wallets

      And what of an employer’s freedom to hire whomever he or she wants? Did your forefathers envision a world where an employee’s (made-up) “right” to force someone to hire them and thus fill their wallet trumps an employer’s right to freely choose who they do and do not wish to employ?

      Your freedom to earn a living does not equate with forcing someone who does not want to hire you to fill your wallet. They are the ones risking the capital for their business, they should get to decide whom they want to risk it on.

      This is not a “Nazi” concept; it is a very Libertarian one.

    • Aesop says:

      Or, just move along and work elsewhere.

      Your “freedom” to do as you please ended the second you punched in, with someone else signing the paycheck.

      Newsflash, it’s been like that – I’m spitballing here – at least since the first guy got hired to help thresh wheat in Babylonia 6000 years ago.

      So I’m thinking the case law on this isn’t going to favor nicotine addicts. Before anyone starts storming the beaches on some employer’s doorstep, maybe start storming the beaches at the public library, if not the law library.
      Just saying.

      So please, spare the false dichotomy between demanding any job, or reverting to robbing banks. Somewhere a lot closer to common sense is working somewhere else, or even just kicking your “lifestyle” habit. BTW, heroin is a “lifestyle habit too. So is child molesting. This can get as ridiculous as necessary to make the point, but the simple fact is, you have no inherent right to MY money, just because I hang out a “help wanted” sign. I’m hoping that concept was covered for you once, somewhere prior to right now on a blog.

  59. Peebles says:

    Oh FFS.

    DC joins several states classifying smoking as a “pre-existing medical condition” under ObamaCare

    “Under ObamaCare, insurers have the option of charging smokers up to 50 percent more to cover the associated higher costs of providing them with health care — but the District of Columbia, along with several other states, have decided that any plans being sold within their exchange are prohibited from adding tobacco surcharges. That simply wouldn’t be fair, you see.”

    How long till smokers — with their sad pre-existing condition which they are obviously helpless to do anything about — are deemed “disabled” and any employment discrimination against them made illegal?

    I am a freedom-loving kind of person who absolutely believes that as long as smoking is legal, free adult citizens have the right to smoke… but I also believe that anyone who stands to lose money because of a smoker’s habit has the right to mitigate those costs & consequences however they see fit.

    Bloody hell.

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