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Should Companies Be Allowed to Ban Workers From Smoking?

As health insurance costs rise, many companies have started taking a more invested interest in its employees' lifestyle choices. Introducing discounted or free gym memberships are great perks that promote health, but there is a gray area when it comes to how deeply an employer should be able to influence employees' health choices.

According to LifeWire, there are at least 20 states that allow companies to ban the hiring of smokers, and one worker in Massachusetts has sued his employer for invasion of privacy after he tested positive for nicotine. Employees of the University of Massachusetts Medical School risk being fired if they are caught smoking at all, even if in their car.

Are these bans crossing the line from wellness awareness to invasion of privacy, or does it make sense that employment could be contingent on something as detrimental to one's health as smoking?

Source

Join The Conversation
lexichloe lexichloe 8 years
Nobody wants a dictating country, that's why we're the United States of America. If such a law is ever passed, it will be the first of many to come. "Hey you, are you on POPSUGAR at lunch??? In the building that houses the company in which you are employed? Leave or be fired on the spot!"
radmama27 radmama27 8 years
Yes. Its fucking nasty
jennjennnbubba jennjennnbubba 8 years
no!!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
YES, because the people that go outside and smoke come in and reek.
ckeller825 ckeller825 8 years
My company has...in a way. Our building doesn't allow smoking anywhere near the building or parking garages, so people who want to smoke have to walk quite the way to get their fix.
Cassandra57 Cassandra57 8 years
ilanac, did they actually *pressure* people to undergo hypnosis? That sounds like grounds for a lawsuit to me. Encouraging good behavior is one thing; harassing you for anything else is not acceptable. Frankly, I'm getting tired of people taking extended breaks "to walk". I think it has become the new "smoke break", i.e., an excuse to slack off. I see them around my building regularly. Get healthy on your own time, you're being paid to work.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i don't think that they should be able to ban it- but i think that it could be stressed that it's frowned upon. at my last agency actually they had this 'health and wellness' day thing and they had someone come in to do the hypnotism thing to get you to quit. the CEO and owner of the agency also made people feel like crap if they were caught smoking, and to be honest, that's just not right. your ability to do great work should not be compromised becuase you have a GROSS habit.
sweetrae80 sweetrae80 8 years
i think that banning smoking at work is not a big deal. but in your car? and getting tested for nicotine? WTF!? What if you are a non-smoker/social smoker and you had a cig at the bar with your friend over the weekend? you would not get a job because of that? ridiculous!
Ella4 Ella4 8 years
I can totally understand there being smoking bans for some companies or some professions where it might impact on your ability to do your job well or your presentation to clients and customers. I had a courier drop something into the office yesterday and he reeked of cigarette smoke, which was so gross. I've also not brought stuff from smoky selling sales people. The smoke smell could stick on them even if they're not smoking on work time. Plus there's some evidence that smoking slows your reaction times which might be problematic in other jobs.
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
This issue really gets my thong in a twist. At what point do we stop being at work? I have no problem with banning smoking at the workplace or in company cars. But if a person puts in a full days work and wants to go home to have a smoke, or god forbid, a cocktail, why should he or she not be permitted to do so? I honestly think we are just a few short steps away from a hiring being contigent upon a potential employee submitting his or her private medical records for consideration by the employer.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Companies can allow or disallow whatever they want (within reason) on company time and company grounds, but it's ridiculous for them to try to dictate what employees do on their own time and away from company property. They should try banning other unhealthy things that far more people probably do on a regular basis--like eat horrid fast food junk on lunch--and see how well that works. :irk:
sfbutterfly24 sfbutterfly24 8 years
The restaurant chain Nations here in california has a no smoking agreement in their hiring application. I thought it was crazy weird when my siter told me about it when she got the job.
MindayH MindayH 8 years
I completely agree with what everyone is saying. Insurance is expensive and for now, companies are expected to cover those costs, so I can see why this is an issue. For the most part, my company tries to promote a healthy environment (gym reimbursement, healthier snacks, etc.) But my company has fattening stuff they bring into this place on a weekly basis and they are paying for it - so I think it is a contradiction to say that people can't do things that are unhealthy on his/her own time.
em113 em113 8 years
How absurd. I don't smoke cigarettes, but that's my choice, as I'm legally allowed to do so. This is absolutely overly-invasive. Everyone does something bad for their health, whether you always eat fatty foods, or you have icecream once a month, you are still doing something unhealthy, and as long as its not illegal your workplace should not be regulating your health decisions. Should they require all employees to work out five times a week as well? I mean give me a break!
geebers geebers 8 years
This is terrible and definitely taking it too far. Like someone said- it can lead to firing/not-hiring obese people. Smoking is legal and therefore people still have the right to smoke in their private area (Car, home). I can support banning it in work areas but otherwise- that is as far as it ought to go.
Martini-Rossi Martini-Rossi 8 years
No.
jessy777 jessy777 8 years
Smoking is a deadly habit but it is a legal substance and therefore shouldn't be grounds for dismissal or not hiring an employee. I am fine with smoke-free work environments but to test someone for nicotine is an invasion of privacy. It isn't the same as testing someone for cocaine or heroin. There are many things people do that are risky to their health (and thus increase insurance costs) so what is next. Body fat testing, STD testing for you and your partners or pay deductions if you don't take enough vitamins. The sanctions businesses and the government are trying to place on people is become more Orwellian everyday.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
If they allow employers to hire or fire someone based on their smoking status, what will be next? This opens the door for all kinds of potentially discriminatory employment practices!
terryt18 terryt18 8 years
It becomes a slippery slope when rights are taken away.
chellybean chellybean 8 years
PS - Good point about the other unhealthy habits. Like, does that mean I can deny employment to people who are too fat (obesity now being the leading cause of preventable death in the US)? I am so not a fan of people having legal authority over what I choose to do or not do.
chellybean chellybean 8 years
If someone smokes on their own time, on their own property, how can anyone pass judgment on that?
zabrow zabrow 8 years
my company is a "smoke free" campus, so no one is allowed to smoke at all anywhere on the grounds, even outside. it seems kind of invasive to tell people what they can & can't do on their offtime & away from the workplace, though. plus, there are so many other unhealthy habits that they could ban as well. too invasive for me.
hmcmcd hmcmcd 8 years
No way, I mean if it was an illegal substance then it would be a different story. But as long as it is legal then companies have no right to tell you what you can do in your off time. What's next? they can fire you for drinking regular coke instead of diet at home?
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