Fired for smoking?!

You won’t find a much more militant anti-smoker than me, but this story is a bit extreme even for my tastes.

Four people fired because they might be smokers at home, in their own time, away from the workplace. Aparently the company introduced a ban on employing smokers, in order to keep their healthcare costs down. I guess there must be no way to provide healthcare that excludes smoking-related illness?

What do you think?

[quote=“Loretta”]

What do you think?[/quote]

I think it is just another way for some shithead boss to pull rank.

It’s the way things work there. If they don’t like it, they can go someplace else to work.

I don’t like this one bit! :noway:

It reveals narrow minded thinking and caving in to social pressure. I’ll bet more than half of the people at his workplace drink alcohol, but that’s okay, right?

How many people do you know have been killed by a driver whose smoked too many cigarettes? How many partners have been beaten by someone who’s just put out his 20th cigarette of the day?

I agree there are numerous illnesses that can be blamed on smoking. And more are being created everyday, to add fuel to the non-smoker’s fire. But it’s funny how almost everyone leaves out the fact that drinking is just as harmful to your health, and those around you, as smoking is.

[quote=“wonder”]
It reveals narrow minded thinking and caving in to social pressure. I’ll bet more than half of the people at his workplace drink alcohol, but that’s okay, right?[/quote]

Yes, it’s ok…because the rule is NO SMOKING. Simple. If the company wants a new rule saying NO MEAT EATERS, that’s fine too. If the workers don’t like it, they can go someplace else to work or start their own company. A company is not a democracy nor a free-for-all. Rules are made by the management and no one is forcing malcontents to stay.

[quote=“Loretta”].

Four people fired because they might be smokers at home, in their own time, away from the workplace. Aparently the company introduced a ban on employing smokers, in order to keep their healthcare costs down. I guess there must be no way to provide healthcare that excludes smoking-related illness?

What do you think?[/quote]

This may be apples and oranges but seems to me from reading the article that theses folks were fired (quit before they were fired actually) because they refused to take a test to determine if they were smokers, not because they were smokers.

I personally would not like the company I work for deciding what I can and cannot do in my personal life. Things always start out like this, “We’re doing what’s best for the employee, better for his family…so take it or leave it.” A company is a job, not a fiefdom where the CEO’s rule is law. You buy my time, not my soul.

Someone in this company is getting ahead of themself.

I disagree with those workers being fired too, but I believe the above statement may be false. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, tobacco was the leading cause of death in the US in 2000 although obesity is expected to soon take top honors:

Leading Causes of death in the US
tobacco 18% of all deaths
poor diet/lack of exercise 16%
alcohol 3.5%
jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/ab … 91/10/1238

Well it looks like they thought of obesity as well:

[quote]According to Reuters news agency, Mr Weyers wants to turn his attention next to overweight workers.
“We have to work on eating habits and getting people to exercise. But if you’re obese, you’re (legally) protected,” he said.
The BBC’s Jannat Jalil in Washington says that if the firm survives any future legal challenges, it could set a precedent for other companies to follow suit. [/quote]

Welcome to the gulag.

OOC

Um…that’s great homework…really. But is Taiwan or any part of Asia included in this five year old research? :s I don’t dislike the US, but it’s not the center of our universe and certainly not the end-all to be-all.

That being said, it did surprise me that it cited tobacco as the cause of 18% of all deaths.

What the heck were those idiots doing with the tobacco? Stuffing it up their nose and suffocating? Don’t they know they’re supposed to roll it and smoke it? :unamused:

This does seem a little extreme to me, but I also see quite a lot of sense in it. If a company provides the employee with health insurance, then like any other provider of health insurance, they can set conditions according to the amount of risk involved in insuring that person. I am not a smoker and I seldom drink more than two or three units of alcohol per week. If I purchase insurance coverage, I sure as hell don’t want to pay higher premiums just to cover for someone else’s riskier habits. If they want to smoke, then they should be ready to pay more to be insured. The cost should not be shared by me. The same should go for the obese and heavy drinkers. I can understand why this company doesn’t want smokers. They are simply more expensive to insure. Smokers get more respiratory infections and have a higher risk of cancer and heart disease. An argument can also be made that smokers are less productive than non-smokers. If smokers don’t want to pay more for insurance, or if they don’t want to be discriminated against because an employer recognizes that providing benefits to them could be more costly, then smokers should just quit smoking.

My mind isn’t made up on this. However, I am fairly anti-smoking minded.

Let’s think about this. Let’s say that I am the owner of a professional sports club, say a football team. I might require as a condition of employment that my players not use recreational or performance enhancing drugs. I might also require that they refrain from taking unnecessary risks that could negatively affect their ability to perform their job (play football)… such unnecessary risk might include, for example, participation in a no holds barred fighting tournament.

Would my requirements be reasonable? Acceptable? I think they would be. Why? Because, as the owner of the team/club, I have invested money and time in the player and expect the player to be able to perform his job to the best of his ability.

Everyone knows that smoking is an unhealthy habit/addiction/pleasure. I’ve seen statistics in the past that indicate that smokers in the US take substantially more sick days than do non-smokers. This costs the company money.

The question is… should the company be required to eat these additional costs, when the habit/addiction/pleasure of smoking is one that was voluntarily entered into by the employee? There is no question, in my mind at least, that if the employee is suffering instead from something like Cystic Fibrosis, but is generally able to perform the job duties, that such employee should be protected. But, I’m not certain its fair to force the company to pay the extra costs associated with the hiring of an employee who will likely be sick more often than other employees.

Nobody is telling the employee that he cannot smoke at home. Rather, the company is saying that if you take unnecessary risks or engage in a particular habit that is known to cause a higher rate of sickness and absenteeism, we (the company) do not wish to hire you or continue your employment.

I’ll be interested in reading alternative views.

smoked for 8 or nine years, quit for 9 now (other than a good cigar a few times a year) …

i don’t think it will hold up in court, where it is sure to wind up. what’s next? firing employees for wanting to participate in sporting activities which are more “dangerous” than other activities? as these lead to more days where the worker is unable to work also? there are more examples of “dangerous” behavior that this company could fire you for: driving fast, not getting enough exercise … i’m sure the list goes on.

you gotta be careful when you say that the company is free to make whatever rule they want. there are laws against this (not smoking rights, per se, but others).

if smokers wants to kill themselves, they seem to still have a right to do so. as long as they are not endangering others’ health …

I am not anti-smoking at all, but I am having a hard time understanding why there is even an issue here.

Is smoking more harmful to one

Whether or not this holds up in court, let’s expand your statement above… how do you feel about this:

if smokers wants to make themselves sick, they seem to still have a right to do so. as long as they are not costing their employers’ unnecessary additional costs…

If your statement above is OK, what’s wrong with my statement above?

Um…that’s great homework…really. But is Taiwan or any part of Asia included in this five year old research? :s I don’t dislike the US, but it’s not the center of our universe and certainly not the end-all to be-all. [/quote]

I agree the US is just one country, but it’s harder to find reliable studies such as the above in most other countries. Nonetheless, if you examined the leading causes of death in East Asia, if anything, smoking might contribute to an even greater percentage of deaths. The World Health Organization wrote. . .

w3.whosea.org/en/Section980/Sect … 1_4803.htm

Cancer has long been the leading cause of death in Taiwan (although I admit tobacco is not the only cause of Cancer).

taiwanheadlines.gov.tw/20030 … 611s4.html

And in China apparently it is worse

signonsandiego.com/uniontrib … asmok.html

But all of that is not directly to the point. We all know (except for the CEOs of the leading tobacco companies :wink: ) that tobacco kills lots of people. The more interesting question is whether an employer should have the terminate employees for off-the-job behavior that does not interfere with their job performance. I say no.

" I’m tired of subsidizing the outcome of this filthy habit "

What a great quote :notworthy: Why should the company, and therefore all the other employees, pay for the increased healthcare costs of the smokers?

I think all the boss’ arguments are good ones, though they can be argued both ways. But he left the best reason out. No matter how good they are at their jobs, or what great interpersonal skills they may have, it sucks working with people who smell like dirty ashtrays. Personally, I won’t hire people who smoke, or have them transferred into my department, because they stink.

I tend to agree with your answer.

Thus, the question for me is whether smoking off-the-job interferes with the smoker’s job performance.

The stats I saw a while back indicate that smoking does interfere with the smoker’s job performance.

I do understand why a company would not want to pay higher insurance premiums because some of its employees smoke; however, to deny employment because of smoking AT HOME AND OUTSIDE OF WORK seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Is smoking that reasonable a cause for dismissal? Smoking a butt at home adversely effects job performance?

If it is the insurance payouts they are worried about, why not cut benefits for smokers? Isn’t that what insurance companies do anyway? If you smoke you pay more and get less.

Are there any other examples of companies having strict policies about personal private behavior that might be related to this case?

Another question: Is this company public or private?

I understand your point, TM, that those who smoke at home may take more sick days. But can’t the same be said for those who fail to eat vegetables or those who who go out in the rain without umbrellas? Should they be fired as well, because they are statistically more likely to take sick leave? Unless it is proven that an off-the-job activity actually interfered with job performance I feel it is none of the boss’s damn business. Hypothetical damages based on the class as a whole should not be sufficient to terminate specific employees.

Apparently smoking affects the health of a smoker and smokers take more sick days off than non smokers.