Fewer jobs and higher insurance costs for smokers
Although the number of smokers in Canada continues to decline, smoking remains the most important cause of preventable illness, disability and premature death.
That’s why a growing number of companies are introducing smoking cessation programs and forcing employees who use tobacco to fess up and return corporate wellness bonuses -- as well as pay higher health premiums in the first place. A few employers, including some in Canada, have even stopped hiring smokers altogether.
It’s also why, on average, smokers pay as much as 40% more for life insurance. Happily, I'm not one of them but those who look to their cigarettes for comfort and companionship really think they're under attack.
So, how much puffing does it take to be considered a smoker, and what if you fudged a bit about smoking on your life insurance application?
The definition of a “nicotine user” is someone who uses any form of nicotine delivery, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, a nicotine patch and nicotine gum, reports Insure.com.
The look back period on nicotine use will vary by insurer. Some will judge you to be a user if you’ve used a nicotine product in the past two years, other a bit less.
If you really are a regular smoker, it’s generally not a good idea to fib in order to get a lower rate. In fact, it’s fraudulent.
If you’ve lied on your application about nicotine use and then nicotine turns up in a subsequent medical exam, you’ll still get dinged or dropped.
What’s the worst that could happen? Say you die of a heart attack and it comes to light that you’ve been a smoker all your life. The insurance company could justifiably deny or substantially reduce the claim, Insure.com warns.All these restrictions on hiring and benefits have smokers rights groups screaming discrimination: Should employers also be allowed to check for high blood pressure or cholesterol during pre-employment screening? What about high risk factors for heart disease?
No? Then, they ask, why single out smokers this way?
Their opponents, of course, say they see nothing wrong with smokers paying heavily for the consequences of their actions, including lost job opportunities and significantly reduced incomes.
Their comment retort: Why should others pick up the tab that stems from your unhealthy behavior?
What's your take: Are smokers getting a raw deal? Does a smoke-free workplace actually mean no smokers at all?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money
Posted by: Portes | Apr 30, 2021 9:11:10 AM
I don't smoke, but this is an infrinement on their rights, the Governments collect more in taxes from smokers than they use in hospital costs,as they tend to die younger, therefore there is not strain on the nursing homes etc If someoine said tomorrow that you could not drive cars anymore, then that would cause an uproar. Cars pollute more than smokers so why not ban them as well
Posted by: Sandy | Apr 30, 2021 9:25:11 AM
I am a smoker and I have had less doctor and hospital usage than most of the non smokers I know. To me companies and governments that discrimate against someone for a personal habit should be charged with human rights violations. If someone is an alcoholic there are company programs to help that person. But smoke and there is nothing. The government should be happy with the amount of taxes they receive from smokers. Non smokers should worry if those tax dollars disappear. The government will have to make up for them somewhere. Do non smokers want to pay the short fall.
Posted by: Maureen | Apr 30, 2021 9:25:53 AM
Increased costs in life insurance for smokers is bad enough, along with the cost of the actual purchase of cigarettes. There are many ways for individuals to be unhealthy and quite a bit of it relates to genetics, rather than lifestyle choices. A company is allowed to refuse to hire an individual due to their smoking habits, then what about individuals that overeat, drink too much, drive to fast and other high risk activities. The privacy factor should be more of the consideration, it really is nobody's business what pleasures/risks an inividual chooses to participate in outside of the work area. That is strictly why work is work and home is home. When it begins to interfere with work habits, then the employer should be able to raise their concern. As for the extra cost smokers place on the health care system, I will mention that I have been smoking for many years and the only two occasions that I've stepped into a hospital was for the birth of my children and I only see the doctor once a year - for my phsyical which is always good, unfortunately some people are just prone to illness, smokers and non-smokers alike. If I should have to pay extra due to my smoking habits, then shouldn't overweight people be required to do so as well???? What exactly has happened to privacy and equality - clearly it only applies now to the current majority.
Posted by: danb | Apr 30, 2021 9:33:28 AM
I smoke though not that much I quit for four years but I like cigars so I smoke I guess.Now I agree that smoking is bad for me and that it poses some risks.But what about eating junk food and people who continue to ignore the science about being overweight or having a poor diet probably 70 percent of people in the workforce could be accused of this.Here the bell people it may toll for me now but you are next.I hate the fact that all these fat nonsmoking couch potatoes jump on smokers when ever they feel like it and continue to be a bigger drain on health care than smokers.
Posted by: Ed | Apr 30, 2021 9:40:06 AM
Smokers unite!! It is time that we as a group stand up and do something about the constant violations against our rights. It is not right that we pay so much for a pack of smokes, not right that we are forced to go outside in the rain, cold, etc...usuallly increasing our risk of illness, it's not right that we are always made to look like the bad guy, while unhealthy habits like overeating, etc. are overlooked.
If it is so bad for us, why not just ban tobacco....oh wait, who would pay the tax then?
Get Smart Canada, the wool has been pulled over your eyes.
Posted by: vancouver3 | Apr 30, 2021 9:49:02 AM
Alcohol, drugs, junk food, cars are all bad for health, smokers have taken such a hammering over the last decade and yet many of us remember full well the adverts, films etc that told us that smoking was smooth, cool even sexy and encouraged us to smoke. Smoking is a proven addiction and hard habit to break but we as smokers have been made to feel almost criminal but as pointed out in some of the points above the amount of tax we pay on our habit usually more than covers any hospital care we may or may not need as here is a fact not all smokers die of cancer or heart realted illness!! With this campaign against smokers and smoking you have to ask why is there not a similar campaign against alcohol and its deaths or the domestic abuse it causes surely it is more anti social than smoking? Will work places ever treat drinkers the same as smokers, would they dare? But how many children or loved ones have been run over by drunk drivers, how many children or loved ones have suffered abuse at the hands of drunken violence. How may deaths a year are down to alcohol abuse and yet what is done about it? But smokers who are now forced to smoke in the middle of a large open space or in private are continually harrased and made to feel like public enemies!!
Posted by: williams | Apr 30, 2021 9:54:51 AM
I am so tired of all this anti-smokers talk, it is not the smokers at fault, they are highly addicted to nicotine.Why don't we start at the true root of the problem, the government !!! They could simply force cigarette companies, to start reducing the nicotine levels and toxic substances, so much per year til it is a safer product. But no, that is not in their interest, as they collect billions in taxes from the sale of cigarettes and the tobacco companies are too powerful. It is about time we shift our anger from the smokers to the government, asking what are they going to do. Since when is selling poison legal
Posted by: marsha | Apr 30, 2021 10:45:50 AM
I am a smoker however the more rules/restrictions they put up makes me even more upset over it all. Dennis Leary said that we'd only be able to smoke in our apartment, in the bed under the covers while the cops outside are ready to break in all because you lit up a cigarrette. And oddly enough it's almost coming true. I've been a bartender for years, watching people waste away their health drinking excessivly, waitressed in a restaurant while overly obese people gorge, watched gamblers toss away their nest eggs and bring families further into debt and yet smoking is the one that is banned? I'm not saying that it's any less important but why the emphasis on it now? To have a healthier Canada? There's far more important things than a "smoking cessation clinic" how about some of our tax money go into subsidizing or lowering the costs of the quit smoking medications that can help those long term smokers quit? I know the health risks involved, my parents , grandparents, adults smoked around me my entire life and yes, I've smoked a good portion of my life as well. But I can't say that I have had any worse illness than the next door people who've never been exposed to it. To impose on one's unhealthy habits is like saying meals are to be portioned federally and only sold in such quantity to one person to avoid over indulgence, junk food is banned and alcohol and tobacco is an illegal substance like marijuana and cocaine.(though I don't think I've heard of an overdose on smoking, the rest of the examples it is possible )
Posted by: Brian | Apr 30, 2021 10:53:43 AM
Yes, smokers are getting a raw deal and no, a smoke free environment has nothing to do with what people do outside of the business. Our govt and big business are getting way out of line with imposing their will on the canadian citizens. Both of my parents have smoked for decades, they are in their eighties and healthy. As for the dollar burden to society the tobacco tax has paid their way for any short term help they will use in the future. Would they live longer if they had been smoke free? As for second hand smoke, the baby boomer generation grew up in a heavy smoking environment. Does that mean that they will die 20yrs sooner? I know a lot of seniors that have no desire to live to 120 years old. As for business and govt impossing their health standards on people and employees that is how prisons and communist countries treat their inmates.
Posted by: Jason | Apr 30, 2021 10:56:14 AM
Anyone who goes out and causes damage to their own health through smoking, drinking, over eating high fat diets should have their premiums increased.
I have never smoked, drank excessively or kept a bad high fat, fast food diet. But because of a genetic condition, I have very high cholesterol and have been denied insurance becasue of it. I excersie and keep fit and by looking at me you would think I would be a candidate for insurance, unfortunately the insurance companies dont look at this, they look at the numbers in test results and if you are deliberatly harming yourself then pay the fiddlers price. I know there a people who keep bad habits that get good test results and will say they are ok and deserve a better premium, maybe right now you do but the lifestyle will catch up to you, it always does.
Posted by: Trent | Apr 30, 2021 11:09:38 AM
You people have to be kidding me. If you smoke you are consciously undermining your own health and therefore the overall health care system of all OUR country PERIOD. Take some responsibility for your actions. I do agree that heavy drinkers and the obese deserve the same treatment as smokers as those are also CHOICES! Don't smoke...it's that simple, or pay the price for it, because I'm not interested in paying for you.
Posted by: Kilyra | Apr 30, 2021 11:12:24 AM
I completely agree with the other comments that if a company is allowed to not hire someone due to smoking, then they should also be able to not hire someone who is overweight. I mean they are both serious drains on the health care system if you want to look at it that way. But I especially agree with the people who say that the insurance premiums shouldn't be based on habits, but on the test results. It's a bad joke though. The government and insurance companies would run into for more problems if everyone did stop smoking than any issues they are currently dealing with. And yet they have to appease us non-smokers and make a big show about cracking down on these unhealthy rebels. They walk a fine line of hard tactics but through annoying (not effective) measures.
Posted by: dalan | Apr 30, 2021 11:15:54 AM
I think most smokers do it because they are stress out.
I think teenagers smoke because they are stress out too.
Profile of a smoker: Hard working, low to middle income, shift work,overtime work,long hours,
dirty and heavy work, smelly environment,mentally stressed, physically stressed,etc.
If the person dies, it's not because he is over worked or stressed out, it's always because he smoke.
Doctors will easily say, ah it's because he/she smoke and not because he is overworked.
I hear stories only about lung cancer. In all my years I have not known anybody that is close to me dies of that. Most of the people close to me dies usually of heart attack or strokes.
Logic : make people who works too hard pay more taxes, let people relax more.
No weekend shopping, no overtime, etc. I know, I know, I am flipping dreaming.
It is just easier to blame it on the smokers for now. When they is no more smokers, we can then
blame it on car pollution, nuclear waste, chemical waste which of course we really want to talk
about right now.
Posted by: Facts | Apr 30, 2021 11:33:47 AM
Most of the comments here are from smokers because as the saying going the squeaky wheel gets the grease. A lot of the comments on here point to other health issues in an attempt to move blame off of people who have made bad choices and want others to live with that. I get the fact that over eating is bad but what over eaters do does not force me to have bad health as well. Many smokers on the other hand if they had their way, they would want to be able to smoke at work in all restaurants, planes, buses like it used to be. I am sorry but this bad choice you make should not make others have health problems (there is no such thing as second hand food disease). I am not over weight or smoke and have a pretty healthy life. I think that the reason smokers are so quick to shift blame is because it is their addiction talking. It will do anything to convince you to keep smoking and this goes for all additions. I think if smokers were to be really honest with themselves they would say “yes there are other bad health issues out there but this should not serve as an excuse for my bad decisions”. There are many comments on here that have really bad information and I urge people who write here to back up their comments with facts. For example vancouver3 said “the amount of tax we pay on our habit usually more than covers any hospital care we may or may not need. “ You could not be more wrong I do not think the writer believes it either. WHERE ARE THE FACTS TO BACK THIS NONSENCE UP? It does not cover this and all the studies in recent history (even the ones paid for by Tobacco companies) point to the opposite but again this is the addition talking. People tell themselves that they give more in tax money then what they use so it is ok that I continue to smoke, any excuse to continue. Another writer Portes said “they (smokers) tend to die younger, therefore there is not strain on the nursing homes etc.”The problem Portes is that smoking coupled with a genetic predisposition for say heart attack and you have smokers dieing in their working years when they are supposed to be contributing to society and not at the end of a 75-80 years life. If they survive the heart attack their health care bills are past on to all of us now plus they are not able to work in too many cases as was the case with my father who past away 2 years ago from smoking related illnesses. He too seemed healthy for many years but one day he could hardly breath and after found out he only had 25% lung capacity left. Smokers you should not use having relatively good health as an excuse to keep smoking as it will catch up with you.
Posted by: Brian EP | Apr 30, 2021 11:34:02 AM
Insurance companies are in the habit of taking in more than they pay out by their rules via help from the lobby at the government wide open doors.
The work place should concentrate on who can do the job to prevent recalls consumers suffer more than second hand smoke.
Posted by: CanPipe | Apr 30, 2021 11:41:21 AM
I wonder if anyone would cry discrimination if companies were to do the same with obese people. I mean, most overweight people are a result of their own actions...just like smokers...and the health implications are quite similar (if not worse). But I guaranty it would be discriminatory if "fatty" couldn't get a job or life insurance because of their eating addiction and associated health problems. Any "addiction" should all be treated with the same severity...or disrimination.
Posted by: PirateKitty | Apr 30, 2021 12:11:29 PM
Isn't it illegal to not hire someone because they smoke? It's no different than refusing to hire someone because they are overweight. Both conditions are likely brought on by themselves (I say likely, because they are a few people out there that have health conditions that prevent them from maintaining a healthy eight), yet do not affect their fellow employees (because you aren't allowed to smoke inside buildings).
I don't condone smoking, I've never smoked myself and I do tend to think it's silly to waste all that money buying cigarettes, BUT it's legal to buy and smoke them and therefore everyone has the choice whether they want to or not.
Anytime a company is trying to dictate your lifestyle, be it through controlling behaviours, demanding brand loyalty, etc. they are crossing the line. An employee is paid to provide a service to their employer, that does not include handing one's individual rights to said employer.
This also made me think of the new fad of having dog-friendly workplaces. When my brother told me that he works in one such office I nearly croaked! It's fine for people that like and/or have dogs, but what about those who don't like them, are allergic or uncomfortable around them? By making an office an off-leash indoor park you are basically closing the door on potential or current employees who are not on board with it. It would be one things if it was a dog charity, or a groomers, he works at in an IT-type job. Completely innapropriate IMO.
Posted by: Gen | Apr 30, 2021 1:08:20 PM
The way I see it, smoking is a choice. If you decide to start smoking despite the obvious health risks, then you deserve to pay for the insurance, not your company. Being over weight is not the same as smoking because you can not be sure that obesity is a result of bad choices over genetics, diseases, etc.
Posted by: don | Apr 30, 2021 1:14:32 PM
If you are overweight due to a medical condition it can be tested for and proven...just like nicotine in the blood so why not charge them too? Just an interesting fact....my mother is a long term smoker that did not start until she was 25 years old. The doctor told her to as it was good for wieght control and stress. How things change.
Posted by: Ben | Apr 30, 2021 1:16:17 PM
Wait a minute!! Countless studies state that stress is the number one killer, so companies should start treating employees like humans instead of profit robots, and chances are that many won't overeat, smoke or anything else we choose to blame for the irresponsability of corporate america. What is going to be next, we are going to send to jail smokers? I am not a smoker and I can clearly see that Canandians are dumber than I believed for thinking something like that. Get real.