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.