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Florida County Tells Smoking Job Applicants to Butt Out

Sarasota County in Southwest Florida has just announced it will no longer be hiring smokers. In the interest of taxpayers, the county hopes to cultivate a less expensive and more productive work force.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking employees cost an extra $3,400 a year in health care and lost productivity costs.

While it saves resources, Sarasota County doesn't have to worry about being slapped with a discrimination lawsuit — in 1995, Florida's supreme court ruled that smokers are legal victims of employment discrimination. Still, other counties in Florida take a less extreme approach, hiring smokers, while requiring them to pay more for health care, and attend smoking cessation classes.

Is it fair to exclude even super-productive smokers based on a broad statistic? Does the county have an obligation to cut costs, and thus refuse to hire smokers? Will this type of discrimination eventually lead to a smoke free America? Should employers refuse to hire individuals based on other bad habits and health problems?


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