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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?


Join The Conversation
andiecav andiecav 8 years
I have an even better idea, lets just offshore outsource all the American jobs the wartorn poverty nations will take our jobs at a fraction of the cost and they will work twice as hard as Americans. They also won't be subject to American Laws. If a company really wants to save money and time that the smokers, fat people, or people who might have urinary incontinence and waste all that time going to the bathroom 20 times a day. Please don't hire anyone who might have some sort of handicap that might slow them down a touch or allow them some sort of individualism. In fact mother's with children are a danger as well they might have to take off more time from work to take care of a sick child or even make personal phone calls on company time to guide and care for children. Only hire very clean single young people with no illness, no children, no family and no outside life. People who might develop cancer or anyother illness should also be banned from work, just think of the healthcare costs and waste of company time. I mean lets be fair here, ban one ban them all!
andiecav andiecav 8 years
I think they should stop hiring fat people as well they are very expensive on the healthcare system as well. When they walk it takes them twice as long to move, that is valuable company time wasted. Who do you think takes up more company time a smoker taking breaks or a fat person who takes forever to walk down a hallway or just getting in an out of their chair or work or god forbid they have a hill to walk up to get to their job.
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
I couldn't stand the stench of alcohol from my boss when I returned from lunch. Ciggies must be worse, no?
RaCheer RaCheer 9 years
It is most definitely discrimination. And like CaterpillarGirl, I also work with people who take many more smoke breaks than allotted. They come back stinky and I absolutely cannot stand the smell. What a disgusting habit!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
We have people who take alot of smoke breaks, more than the normal tow 15 minute breaks we are aloud, and they come back stinking which makes me want to vomit. we have one designated smoking "area" and its on the back part of the parking lot far away from the building and they complain because they have to haul thier fat A$$es out there and back. BTW we work at a clinic for children with special needs.....needs like Asthma, Allergies, respiratory illness etc.....
thatsjoanna thatsjoanna 9 years
This will never work. I too don't smoke and broke my soon-to be hubby of the habit while we were dating. But if they start shunning away smokers from there counties...whats next? What other bad habits are they going to take on and try to get rid of. This is not right in anyway... there is a better way...
JenFan1 JenFan1 9 years
Wow I'm pleasantly surprised by the outrage shown on this post...and rightfully so. At this rate they should also not hire diabetic people, disabled people, over-weight people and women...because they get pregnant and "take away from productivity"! Good lord! What is this world coming to? I will be honest, I smoke. But I certainly don't take 10 smoke breaks a day *ugh, I don't smoke that much*, but in any case I go out 3 times a day for 5 minutes..I really don't think that's any less productive then other people who take their hour-long lunches and socialize in the kitchen for 15 minutes while making coffee. I don't agree with this at all..its sad how much discrimination is out there and how many of us face it every day
flutterpie flutterpie 9 years
my boyfriend and i were talking about this and it comes down to one thing:government intrusion. if a private company wants to choose not to hire smokers, then they should be able to do that. if government wants to incentivize companies to not hire smokers, they can do that too. but for government to forbid a company to hire a qualified employee based upon a legal habit, is a little too much for me.
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
janneth, Don't like McDonald's, Taco Bell, Arby's. Burger King, or your local deli? Kick the habit! ;)
janneth janneth 9 years
It's a great idea. Fewer tax dollars going to pay for the indulgences of individuals. And yes, nicotine is a drug. Don't like it? Kick the habit.
Michelann Michelann 9 years
How about elderly people? Or overweight people? Motorcyclists? People with risky hobbies like rock climbing? Should these people "pay the difference" because they add to health care costs? I seriously doubt the government has considered evaluating other healthcare cost risks. It has become fashionable to persecute smokers, and this is just the latest step in limiting personal liberty. This is just one more example that when the government provides your healthcare, they have the power to dictate your lifestyle. This is the definition of fascism.
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
Just thinking....what is next for Florida? Banning women from the workforce because of the time it takes them away from their jobs to attend to their monthly menstruation cycles?
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
Question: What is the definition of "a smoker?" On one hand, you have someone smoking two packs of cancer sticks per day. On the other hand, you have a guy who enjoys a cigar a few times per month, or a guy or gal that meets friends for a drink after work and bums an occasional butt from those around them. And of course, somewhere in the middle you have the bird finger.... Kind of a slippery slope, if you ask me.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Oh that's silly just take the $3,400 out of their pay over the course of the year and give them a job.
Imani33 Imani33 9 years
I work with smokers and and they take a 10min smoke break every hour on the hour. It cuts into productivity severely and they miss half their calls and other employees can never find them because they are outside smoking. Also in the winter months they are more prone to sickness as well. I don't think the gov should discriminate in hiring them but charge them more for insurance....I do agree.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
Interesting. It seems like regulating the breaks they take and making them pay a higher premium is a better solution. Guess we'll see how it goes.
ladychaos ladychaos 9 years
...why don't they just make tobacco illegal? I mean honestly, second hand smoke kills. Also, cigarette smoke stinks. I have a grandmother that smokes, and I swear, I have to wash my clothes like 3 or 4 times after leaving her house. That in itself can be a distraction for people, especially those who have sensitivities to the chemicals that are released from smoking (yes, it can even bother someone if its just a smell in your clothes). I don't know if I'd take it that far to say ban all smokers from working. Instead I would say make them pay the difference in the insurance premiums between them and other non-smoking employees. I would also make them chew nicotine gum during work (or wear the patch) as to keep them from taking as many breaks.
ExpressionEleven ExpressionEleven 9 years
<-- NONSMOKER: but I agree with those who think this is crossing the line. One problem I see is that a broad statistic is being used to target a group that might only be a 'piece' of the problem. "Smoking may contribute to an additional $3400 a year in health care expenses and lost productivity costs" is far too vague to offer any real insight. There are far too many health factors and conditions that could contribute to this statement amongst smokers and non-smokers alike. I'm curious to see if in a year, Saratosa County will be able to demonstrate comparable health care savings and increased productivity through the enforcement of their new policy. If so - Kudos to them. If not - perhaps they should offer restitution to all those qualified smokers that were turned away due to their 'legal' habit.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
"I don't see why it's so terrible for someone to reject a smoker if they can reject drug users, just because cigarettes are somehow still legal. They're just as bad for you, and worse than some drugs." I don't think cigarettes are good for you, by any means. But they are legal. I have a problem with a company or a government deciding not to hire a group of people because they choose take part in a fully legal activity. However, like I stated before, I don't have a problem with smokers paying higher premiums, just with them not being hired at all.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
I'm not a smoker, but I think it's an invasive and unfair policy. People engage in risky behaviors all the time- why should the guy who smokes be penalized, when the guy who gets drunk and then drives himself home twice every weekend isn't penalized at all? What about people who jaywalk? Or are just bad drivers and get in accidents all the time? They're all choosing to take risks that their health insurance may have to pay for. I think if a person chooses to smoke, they should have to pay higher premiums that reflect the cost of treatment, but outright not hiring them altogether seems unfair.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Just a clarification. The county has made the decision not to hire smokers as county (government) employees, whose salaries and health benefits would be paid for by tax payers.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
I feel bad for the other people in their department. They never take a break and the smokers are always taking them. I am an ex-smoker and I would never imagine taking as many breaks as these people.
bsglrok132 bsglrok132 9 years
I don't see why it's so terrible for someone to reject a smoker if they can reject drug users, just because cigarettes are somehow still legal. They're just as bad for you, and worse than some drugs.
zeze zeze 9 years
why can't companies regulate breaks, so people who take more stay longer and everyone works the same amount of time...seems easier.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
What I think is funny is the one woman in our office who smokes is probably THE most productive member of our team. She's a damn witch... but constantly taking breaks she ain't.
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