[tabi] smokers: the next group not hired

  • From: "Allison and Chip Orange" <acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 6 Jan 2012 20:25:38 -0500

Below is an article run in news papers across the country today.  I'm
wondering if non-smokers are cheaper as employees, then who else might be
cheaper?  non-disabled employees?  Employees who aren't over-weight?  I
certainly hope this doesn't turn out to be legal.



Workplaces ban not only smoking, but smokers themselves
By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have laws that protect
smokers' rights

More job-seekers are facing an added requirement: no smoking ? at work or
An increasing number of employers won't hire applicants whose urine tests
positive for nicotine use, whether from cigarettes, smokeless tobacco or
even patches.

An increasing number of employers won't hire applicants whose urine tests
for nicotine use, whether from cigarettes, smokeless tobacco or even
As bans on smoking sweep the
, an increasing number of employers ? primarily hospitals ? are also
imposing bans
on smokers. They won't hire applicants whose urine tests positive for
nicotine use,
whether cigarettes, smokeless tobacco or even patches.
Such tobacco-free hiring policies, designed to promote health and reduce
premiums, took effect this month at the Baylor Health Care System in Texas
and will
apply at the Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio, when it opens this year.
Humana won't hire smokers in Arizona
"We have to walk the walk if we talk the talk," says Dave Fotsch of Idaho's
District Health Department, which voted last month to stop hiring smokers.
Each year, smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke causes 443,000 premature
and costs the nation $193 billion in health bills and lost productivity,
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The
 says 19.3% of
 adults smoked last year, down from 42.4% in 1965.
"We're trying to promote a complete culture of wellness," says Marcy
Marshall of
the Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa., which begins its nicotine-free
next month. "We're not denying smokers their right to tobacco products.
We're just
choosing not to hire them."
The policies stir outrage, even in the public health community.
"These policies represent employment discrimination. It's a very dangerous
says Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University's School of Public
He says the restrictions punish smokers rather than helping them quit.
"What's next? Are you not going to hire overly-caffeinated people?" asks
Nate Shelman,
a smoker and Boise's KBOI radio talk show host whose listeners debated the
last month. "I'm tired of people seeing smokers as an easy piñata."
After several companies, including
Alaska Airlines
, adopted smoker-hiring bans a couple of decades ago, the tobacco industry
and the
American Civil Liberties Union
 lobbied for smoker rights. As a result, 29 states and the
District of Columbia
 passed smoker-protection laws.
Some laws exempt non-profit groups and the health care industry, and 21
states have
no rules against nicotine-free hiring.
Federal laws allow nicotine-free hiring because they don't recognize smokers
as a
protected class, says Chris Kuzynski with the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission.
There's no data on how many U.S. businesses won't hire smokers, but the
trend appears
strongest with hospitals, says Lewis Maltby, president of the National
Institute, a non-profit offshoot of the
 that opposes the hiring bans.
Many of the new policies expand on smoke-free workplace rules. At Bon
Secours Virginia
Health System, more than 300 employees have kicked the habit since its
campuses went
smoke-free in 2009, and one applicant did so since it began nicotine-free
Nov. 30, says administrative director Kim Coleman.
The bottom line will benefit because health care costs for tobacco users are
to $4,000 more each year than for non-smokers, says Bon Secours' Cindy
Stutts. "There's
also an impact on productivity," she says, because smokers take more breaks.
Paul Billings of the American Lung Association says he's seen no data that
nicotine-free hiring gets people to quit. He says cessation programs are a
bet. Still, his group won't hire smokers: "We're non-smoking exemplars."

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