Friday, December 2, 2005
"The World Health Organisation on Thursday became the largest international employer to ban the hiring of smokers in an effort to promote its public health campaign against tobacco use.
In a memo circulated to its 8,000 staff this week, the WHO stressed that it had 'a responsibility to ensure that this [its campaign] is reflected in all its work, including recruitment practices'.
The move is an escalation of action taken against smokers. Several countries have introduced legislation banning smoking in pubs, restaurants and public places, while some employers ban smoking on their premises."
In the United States, such anti-smokers hiring practices would be illegal under some state statutes (e.g., the New Jersey Smokers’ Rights Law 34:6B-1).
On the other hand, there is strong empirical evidence that smoking causes employees to miss many more days of work and spend more money on health care than non-smokers. In all, smokers make for more expensive employees. Perhaps, consistent with my earlier post on obesity regulation, employers should be able to use a combination of carrots and sticks to give employees incentives to quit smoking.
Finally, privacy advocates argue that although employers should be able to prevent employees from smoking at work or on working time, employees should be free from employer interference if they choose to smoke on their own time, away from work.
An interesting debate, indeed. I am opening comments for thoughts and opinions.
Posted by: Paul M. Secunda