Is it ok if companies don't hire smokers?

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  1. Cassie Smith profile image60
    Cassie Smithposted 12 years ago

    More and more companies aren't hiring smokers because they are not a protected class and they increase a company's group health insurance premiums. Should it be allowed?

    1. profile image0
      Muldaniaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      No, it is discrimination.

      1. Dave Mathews profile image60
        Dave Mathewsposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        I agree. No company has this right and if this is the reason they are giving, then they open the door for a law suit.

    2. AmberLeeCollins profile image42
      AmberLeeCollinsposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Do you have any facts to substantiate this? Companies don't have to allow smoke breaks, but they can't not hire you if you smoke on your own time.

      1. habee profile image93
        habeeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Yes, they can. Our local hospital will not hire a smoker. Smokers who were already working there when the new rule was enacted got a pass. But no new smoking employees can be hired.

        1. wilderness profile image96
          wildernessposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Nor will parts of the Idaho state government, with the rest to follow.  They will test every prospective employee for nicotine presence - if it is in your body you won't have a job.  This obviously includes chewing tobacco, the electronic cigarettes, nicotine gum or patches.

          I suppose next will be fat people, people engaging in "dangerous" activities and people with more than 2.3 children.  Any and all can increase insurance costs and decrease productivity.

          1. profile image0
            Muldaniaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            I wonder how a passive smoker would argue their case.  Because living with a smoker will mean that even a non-smoker will have nicotine in their bodies.

            1. wilderness profile image96
              wildernessposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              You're right.  Of course, the policy in Idaho is not against smokers, it is against nicotine.  I suppose the passive smoker could not work there, either.

    3. profile image0
      Brenda Durhamposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      No, it shouldn't be allowed.
      But that's what's happening now that America is pushing the green, supposedly humanitarian but actually creation-worshipping agenda on everyone.
      There's plenty of things we should be criminalizing.  Tobacco isn't one of them.

    4. molometer profile image78
      molometerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Not hiring people because they smoke is discrimination. Consider the Rastafarian religion.

      Part of their sacramental observance is to smoke. Under US Law they are protected.

      The wider question concerning smokers of tobacco products is contentious.

      Socially smokers today are on a level just above lepers.

      The most vocal opponents of smokers are usually former smokers.

      It is illegal to not hire someone because they smoke.

  2. ukbusiness profile image41
    ukbusinessposted 12 years ago

    It would be classed as discrimination if there is documentation of it, but it does seem to happen quite often.
    Many companies will often ask if you are a smoker during the interview process, the best is to say you are not then when you are hired you can take up smoking again. They normally wouldn't be able to do anything about it because then its documented discrimination and you can prosecute for it.

    1. wilderness profile image96
      wildernessposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Not true - smoking isn't one of the protected classes such as race, religion, etc.

  3. profile image0
    EmpressFelicityposted 12 years ago

    If I owned a company I would make it a policy not to hire smokers.

    Not because of the health insurance (which isn't relevant in my country, which has "socialised healthcare") but because of smokers' bloody irritating insistence on having smoke breaks, which are on company time and are therefore subsidised by the company.

    As a non-smoker, it really pisses me off. If I went back to working in an office and insisted on having a five minute paid "chocolate cake break" every hour, nobody would have any sympathy for me and quite right too.

    1. habee profile image93
      habeeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      But what if the smoking employees didn't ask for smoke breaks? I'm a smoker, and I taught public school for years without a smoke break. I smoked only when I wasn't at work.

      1. profile image0
        Muldaniaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        I remember one teacher, who always smoked his pipe in the classroom.  I used to hate my dad smoking his pipe, which made my eyes water, and felt there was no escape even at school.  It seems amazing now that teachers were allowed to smoke around children.

        1. wilderness profile image96
          wildernessposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          In my area, it is illegal to have tobacco products on school grounds, including the parking lot, sidewalks, or any other area the school owns.  You can be arrested and fined for possession whether you are using it or not.

  4. profile image0
    Muldaniaposted 12 years ago

    I remember when offices were full of smoke, which made it hard on the few non-smokers.  Then smokers were provided with a smoking room.  Then smoking was banned inside the buildings, and smokers had to go outside to smoke.  Eventually, smoking was banned anywhere on the premises.  Now, questions are asked at interviews.  Perhaps the policy of 'dont't ask, don't tell' should be adopted, because it really is no business of an employer who does or doesn't smoke.  Next, questions will be asked concerning the diet of a potential employee, and how much exercise they take.  It is Big Brother, and people should be standing up against him.

    1. Sally's Trove profile image78
      Sally's Troveposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      When it comes to how much an employee weighs, Big Brother already hit Japan in 2008, as a matter of law. … 307039996#

      1. profile image0
        EmpressFelicityposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Wow, scary.

        I am wondering if this is the kind of thing we will eventually see in Britain with the NHS - "if you smoke or your BMI is over 30, then you'll have to pay for treatment!" Cue expensive and high profile human rights case...

        1. Sally's Trove profile image78
          Sally's Troveposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          BMI, body mass index? So, Britain is on the trail of penalizing folks who don't conform to proper/PC definitions of good health. That's so pathetic. I don't mean to be sarcastic here, only pointing out how outrageous it is that a country with socialized medical care would then start to single out certain cases for perhaps economic reasons. Too bad. When a nation takes the step to meet the health care needs of its citizens, it should not be dictating what those citizens do or don't do to preordain their medical needs.

          My mind's spinning with this.

          1. profile image0
            EmpressFelicityposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            We haven't started doing it yet AFAICT. But I can imagine it happening - maybe not within the next five years, but further down the line.

            Private health insurance companies seem quicker to go in for this stuff than governments do because with private health insurers, there is a much more direct link between "high risk" patients (like smokers) and the bottom line.

            This is why I have a real horror of private health insurance. Insurance is essentially a bet made with a company that something bad is going to happen. If that "something bad" is an event that's unlikely to occur (like your house burning down), then the bet I make (the premium) will be affordable, and there is a high probability that the insurance company will pay out if the worst happens.

            But illness and injury isn't like that. Pretty well everyone will need medical treatment at some point during their lives. So when you take out private health insurance, the size of your bet has to be huge, and when you need to make a claim, there is a high likelihood that the company will try and weasel out of paying. Or that you will have to pay a huge excess (copay?).

            If it ever came to privatised healthcare, a "pay as you go" setup would be infinitely preferable to private health insurance.

  5. BizGenGirl profile image90
    BizGenGirlposted 12 years ago

    I agree with Muldania. It's just crazy to treat people like they aren't valuable because of personal habits they do or don't have.

  6. andromida profile image56
    andromidaposted 12 years ago

    Every company has the right to put his own terms while hiring an employee.But this rules won't work in every stages of the organizational hierarchy.

    1. wilderness profile image96
      wildernessposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      You may be right in that companies have the right.  Does government, supported by the taxes of smokers?  Idaho is in the process of banning employment for anyone with nicotine in their system.

  7. profile image0
    Arlene V. Pomaposted 12 years ago

    A company can turn you away as an potential employee without announcing that it won't hire smokers.  All you need to do is ask the person during the interview.  As singling out people who smoke and not hiring them--I wouldn't put that out there as a requirement for hiring.  That would be like saying you won't accept applications or hire someone that is 10 lbs. overweight or is in rehab.  You hire people for their skills and what they can bring to your company.  If they have habits you will not tolerate or there is something about them that won't fit in your workplace, find those in the interview.  People should at least be given a chance.

  8. profile image0
    icountthetimesposted 12 years ago

    I have to say that I am anti-smoking. However, as long as the employee followed the workplace rules regarding smoking, I don't see why they shouldn't be employed. Why should it matter what they do in their time away from work? It's an unnecessary intrusion.

    1. habee profile image93
      habeeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I totally agree.

  9. profile image0
    Arlene V. Pomaposted 12 years ago

    I've lived in California all of my life, and I've witnessed all the changes that smokers had to abide by.  Starting with not smoking in restaurants, bars and certain buildings.  I don't smoke.  But it seems to me that because of the laws, I see fewer smokers.  People who smoke in the workplace usually have smoke breaks and don't smoke in the building.  Now, if you tested me for caffeine in my system, I'm sunk.

  10. Reality Bytes profile image75
    Reality Bytesposted 12 years ago

    I have had a correctional officer  (prison guard) tell me that if one of the officers is found to be a drug user that person is sent for rehabilitation.  If they are caught smoking tobacco even in their own homes it is grounds for immediate termination, no help offered.

    It sounds crazy but I have confirmed it with other correctional officers and as far as I have seen this is true.

  11. gracenotes profile image88
    gracenotesposted 12 years ago

    The medical school where I worked for 22 years became the first campus of its kind to be smoke-free, and for this, they received a commendation from the surgeon general.

    This meant, simply, that smokers had to go outside to smoke.  Later, that was amended and smokers could only use tobacco on the street corners and sidewalks.  The university built a couple of outdoor shelters for smokers.

    They took the above action because the sight of overflowing ashtrays outside the entrances to the buildings did not create a very good impression of a med school.

    Since my retirement, I don't think anything has changed much.  I am sure they still hire smokers, and I am equally sure that non-smoking employees still resent the smoke breaks, particularly if the smoker works on the 8th floor of one of the buildings, where it takes a long time for the smokers to return to their desks.

    The only thing I know that changed last year is that tobacco using employees of the state of Texas now have to pay higher insurance premiums.  This happened due to the responses to a poll that employees and retirees could access on the health insurance benefits section of the state's web site.

  12. funnyfarm profile image62
    funnyfarmposted 12 years ago

    The last I heard tobacco was not an illegal substance.  I smoke and I agree that we should pay more into our insurance if we are driving up the cost for everyone else.  I also see the point about smoke breaks becoming an issue.  However, I have seen many non-smokers taking breaks.  Whether you smoke or not, you should get away for a few minutes occassionally just to maintain sanity.  If your employer bans smoking on the premises, wait for your lunch break and leave.  If you need your job, it won't be an issue.  I don't smoke around people who don't, I stay away from children when smoking.  I'm a smoker, not an ax murderer.  The attitude against smokers has become some sort of newly ordained prejudice.  You don't see job applications asking if you drink alcohol in your time off.

    1. Sally's Trove profile image78
      Sally's Troveposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      You are right, tobacco is not an illegal substance. Ban it, like cocaine or meth, then test against it and deny employment. Not until then.

  13. Mighty Mom profile image77
    Mighty Momposted 12 years ago

    It seems that "smoke free/drug free workplaces" are being raised (or lowered) to a new level.
    I personally have a problem with random drug tests on employees "just because we can." Seems extremely intrusive into your personal life. If drug use is affecting your job performance, deal with it as a performance issue.
    If the powers that be are so concerned with the health implications of smoking, they should simply make it illegal. And alcohol, too, while they're at it.

    If the ONLY reason is that smokers cost more to insure, then maybe the answer is to remove the burden of health insurance from our employers.
    I'm surprised our free enterprise hubbers aren't all over that.
    The employer should be able to hire employees based on their ability to fulfill the job. Period.

  14. Mighty Mom profile image77
    Mighty Momposted 12 years ago

    I have another practical objection to banning smokers (or anyone with nicotine in their system) from the workplace.
    It's extremely common for addicts and alcoholics in recovery to smoke cigarettes -- at least in the first months of sobriety. Yes, it's a crutch. But it's (for now) legal and a step=down from even worse self=destructive behaviors.

    So what message are we sending to people who suffer with addictive personalities?
    "Great job making it through rehab and being sober. Good luck putting your life back together. But not here. Nope. We won't hire you until you're 100% squeaky clean. Come back in a year."

    1. Sally's Trove profile image78
      Sally's Troveposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Or ten years. You are so right on every count.

    2. ukbusiness profile image41
      ukbusinessposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      It really has been taken to a new level with some companies. Who is to say that the better candidate for the job is the smoker rather than the non-smoker?

      I have worked with many businesses here in the UK and have not heard anything like this so far, and to be honest if I did hear of a business discriminating against smokers then I would most likely stop my work with them. Its an unjust favouritism and it should play no role in the hiring process.
      I do however think that smokers need to be understanding with their habit, no frequent smoke breaks or prolonged lunch breaks...if it doesn't affect your work then it shouldnt be a problem!

  15. leegis profile image67
    leegisposted 12 years ago

    I wouldn't hire smokers either. Of course, I wouldn't say it being the reason, but I, personally, think that smokers are weak people. Being a smoker, is the same as being an alcoholic - you are still an addict.

    Also, as being the boss of the company, I would think about how much time a smoker would waste in his smoking breaks. It is unfair that non-smoking people do not need to get time off to do "whatever", but the smokers need time off to smoke. Don't you think so?

    1. Mighty Mom profile image77
      Mighty Momposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Interesting logic there.

      Except for them being weak people, one could make the same arguments for not hiring women.
      Because they get married.
      And then they have kids.
      And then they need to get time off to do "whatever" for their families and it's really unfair to the single people who don't have kids who have to pick up the slack.

  16. Pcunix profile image89
    Pcunixposted 12 years ago

    Perhaps it is just an intelligence test.

    1. Pcunix profile image89
      Pcunixposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Let me amend that.  Above a certain age, you have the excuse of getting hooked before we really understood how dangerous smoking is.

      Under that age, you do not.

      1. habee profile image93
        habeeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        I'm glad you clarified that. lol

  17. funnyfarm profile image62
    funnyfarmposted 12 years ago

    Mighty Mom you're becoming my hero!  Let's add young men with motorcycles, and anyone who drives a fast sports car to the insurance list. I'm seeing a common thread here that is really ridiculous.  The evil smokers take so many allowed breaks while the poor abused nonsmokers are chained to their desks.  Forced to work without breaks.  Really?  Who are we kidding?  If an employer allows breaks during the day, those breaks are a part of your employment agreement and available to everyone.  If a smoker is taking excessive breaks the employer can talk to them or give them warning and eventually fire them.  Those employees who chose to stay at their desks, never taking a break are the worst sort of workplace martyr.  They typically spend more time whining about everyone else while they burn themselves out.

  18. profile image52
    LisaB272posted 12 years ago

    To the bitter non-smokers:
    I like to smoke. I enjoy it and I even hand roll my own cigarettes with organic tobacco. I think people who smoke are cool. I was a waitress for 10 years and the smokers were happier people in general, they had far better attitudes and they tipped better. Smokers are less likely to get depressed and go on mind altering medication. Fact.
    If you think smokers are bad, go outside and breathe in some car exhaust and then tell me how bad smoking is. I think it's interesting that people rag on smokers while they sprinkle chemicals all over their house and themselves.

    To the bitter non-smoking employers:
    I know my work ethic. I’m professional, courteous and have been told that I am the best employee at any job I have had. It’s the law that I get a break and I’ll take my break just as the non-smokers do. The fact that I choose to smoke during mine, is my own damn business. How ridiculous and small minded you must be to not hire a potentially great employee because they smoke. You're a dork and I am happily smoking a toast right now to the fact that I don't work for you.

  19. Billy Hicks profile image80
    Billy Hicksposted 12 years ago

    Yes, it's okay. Forgetting the "you shouldn't smoke" argument, a private company has the right to hire whomever they so choose, as long as they don't violate anti-discrimination laws. Smokers are a non-protected class, ergo, they have every right to tell to no.

    Your only recourse (aside from stop smoking), is to petition your congressman to have smokers included on the list of protected class... but don't hold your breath (see what I did there).

  20. SoManyPaths profile image60
    SoManyPathsposted 12 years ago

    if you smoke on your own time it's OK in my opinion. (NOT on company time)
    less productive? well , the USA was dam productive in the 50s, 60s with smokers.
    If you don't come in the office smelling like tobacco it is OK.

    are you more prone to sickness, yeah OK but the same applies to obese people, etc.  No company will openly discriminate but they can find out.

    Smokers are not physically handicapped nor have mental defects so they should not be included with that group.  Jeez, what is this world coming to.  I mean, I already see 24 empty parking spaces fro handicap people at Home Depot (of all places)..  That group is not doing physical labor .

    I am not a smoker and don't plan to be.

    1. profile image0
      Brenda Durhamposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Can't resist saying I love your avatar pic, SoManyPaths.  Monk rocks! smile

  21. Karanda profile image78
    Karandaposted 12 years ago

    Why would anyone want to work for a company that has a policy dictating to them what they will do in their own time?

    A smoker has the right to any job regardless. If the policy states not to smoke during working hours fine, but if the worker leaves the premises in their designated time off and has a cigarette what business is that of the employer?


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