Is not hiring smokers actually good for business?
There’s been a lot of rumbling recently over the legalities and ethics of employers implementing “no smokers” hiring policies as a means of promoting a healthy work environment and trimming group insurance premiums.
Estimates suggest that employees who smoke cost on average $3,396 more per year than non-smokers in lost productivity, higher absenteeism, and increased insurance.
At one Ottawa high-tech company, not only is there absolutely no smoking on company time, but employees aren't allowed to smoke in their off hours either.
“We drink. We swear. We don’t fucking smoke,” the company proudly declares on its values pages. Light up, and you can expect to hear about it pretty quickly.
Larger corporations are following suit, it seems. In the US, a number of healthcare companies have instituted no-smoking policies as part of their recruiting strategies, with some going as far as to announce that they would concurrently implement nicotine testing as part of their hiring process.
But isn't that discriminatory? Perhaps, if you could argue that smoking is a disability, says benefits consultant Kim Siddall. But, although addiction to nicotine has been recognized as a disability under human rights legislation, opinions are divided.
"With health costs continually rising, one has to wonder whether no-smokers hiring policies will gain traction in coming years," she warns.
But other observers are more cautious.
"While an employer’s desire to reduce or eliminate smoking at the workplace is a noble pursuit, employers are advised to be aware of human rights concerns and avoid adopting policies that may constitute discrimination on the basis of disability under human rights legislation," warns Toronto lawyer Simoin Heath.
Rather than banning smokers altogether, Heath feels that offering smoking cessation programs at work is the more prudent way to go.
How are smokers treated where you work? Do they get hired? Or have they already been shown the door?
Posted by: Atul | Jun 18, 2021 11:12:46 PM
Not hiring smokers is not a solution and does not make companies socially responsible. Companies might loose some great talent and it might be matter of creating awareness for the smokers to discontinue smoking. To take it to the next level (think out of box) companies may put a condition before hiring smokers to either give an assurance that they will reduce the level of smoking or ask them to take a vow to quit smoking and if they agree put these smokers on a rehabilitation program sponsored by companies.
I would like to know what others think...we all have a role to play and contribute to the society.
Posted by: Allan Price | Jun 19, 2021 10:07:31 AM
I would regard smoking as an addiction rather than a disability. So then the company hiring a smoker has a certain similarity to a company hiring any other addict. Of course the detrimental effects of the smoking addiction do not match other more socially unacceptable and dangerous risks associated with illegal drug use for example. The costs to the company of smoking would involve economic and environmental concerns so , to me, the issue facing the company is one of whether the company is willing to face the burden of 'smoking rehabilitation'. The company that brags about not smoking but equates swearing and drinking is a symbol of the total lack of concern with the alcohol problem in this country.
Posted by: RealWorld | Jun 19, 2021 10:09:14 AM
I like the concept of not allowing smoking during work hours. For non-smokers, there is the option to take a break, as needed, but it's often not taken. Smokers, on the other hand, feel a compulsion to take 10 - 15 minutes out to have a cigarette.
Here's a calculation for employers (and co-workers) to keep in mind: 1 minute x 5 days x 50 weeks = 250 minutes. That amounts to about 4 hours, every year, for one minute. 10 minutes, twice a day, means almost 12 DAYS spent smoking on company time. That's more than most people get in vacation time, in their first year.
Posted by: Pat L | Jun 19, 2021 10:16:19 AM
We have to keep in mind that it is being suggested the fumes coming off the smoker are almost as toxic as the cigarette smoke itself. An employer has a duty to keep their other employees safe.
Posted by: Tulla | Jun 19, 2021 10:24:29 AM
Really!! I think this is crazy. I think it's time to quit picking on the smokers. We are not stupid and are just as capable of doing a good job, as the non-smokers. I can think of a lot worse addictions that are present in the work place, and cost just as much in medical insurance to companies. But...for some reason those go unnoticed. It would be like not hiring an obese person, the casino junkies, or the alcoholics, the drug addicts, what people do in their off time is their business but they to in fact cost the company, by either not showing up for work or doing a poor job as well. Come on get real are you not going to hire these people? Its time to quit discriminating against the smokers. Smoking does not alter my mind, it does not make me obnoxious, doesn't make me head for the snack bar, or maybe possibly steal for pay for my gambling addiction.
As for the person who commented on us smokers taking our 15 minute coffee break to go have a smoke, you as a non smoker are entitled to take these breaks as well, if you choose to work through them, don't blame us smokers for that. That's your problem.
Posted by: Peter Smith | Jun 19, 2021 10:29:02 AM
There is a limit to the legitimate interest of employers in cutting health care costs and smoking in off hours is one of them. What will be next, genetic testing to see if the prospective employee has a predisposition to certain diseases ? Monitoring how they drive or if their diet is balanced among the food groups? Absolute idiocy. Not even the fascist societies of the 1930s tried to exert that much control.
Posted by: Tulla | Jun 19, 2021 10:57:43 AM
PS to my above comment.
So...by not hiring us lousy talented smokers, we will have to go on welfare to support ourselves and families. So...you poor non smokers will have to pay to support us, then you will have something else to whine about. I am tired of being bullied because I am a smoker.
I agree with Peter, about the fascist society trying to control us. Like really, I think it's time to focus on more important things.
Posted by: Noel Guiney | Jun 19, 2021 11:43:21 AM
Smoking is a personal choice as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. Smokers do seem to get more breaks at work but that is not their fault. Delegated times for breaks should solve this problem and it is up to the supervisors to monitor it. Smokers are definitely being bullied so who is next? Obese people? Problem drinkers? I would rather work with a hard-working smoker than a lazy non-smoker.
Posted by: bob | Jun 19, 2021 11:54:57 AM
employer stay out of my home!
another reason for the employee to take it easy. I think this statistic is flawed as it was calculated on the bias of a nonsmoking individual.
what a waste of time for everyone involved.
Posted by: Loosing battle | Jun 19, 2021 11:55:54 AM
I understand the company desire to save on insurance costs - but really, many companies post ridiculous profits margins while their workers make mininum wage - not to mention everything we've heard recently about the largest corporations across the board using tax haven shelters to avoid paying their fare share of taxes even with all the breaks that are given. What if this exact story was reworded for alcoholics and social drinkers?! How would you feel if told that you can't get a job because you have the occasional drink on the weekend and companies now started no drinkers policy ? This would never happen because politicians themselves are drinkers... surprise surprise! Frankly, an addicition is exactly that an ADDICTION- chemical or behavioral dependence - so to refuse to hire anyone with any form of addiction is discriminatory if not providing treatment first. Here's a thought, lets stop punishing individuals for goverment or company manipulation and go after the root cause - stop producing and selling cigarettes period! No more tobacco legally. Along with this effort would be FREE support to quit smoking. This means people save more money, which eventually goes back into the economy for spending on a variety of things, reduces health issues across the board and is a general improvement to society.
Posted by: gisele sines | Jun 19, 2021 12:47:38 PM
To Tulla, just the fact that you are smoking means you are stupid. It's proven that smoking kills, yet you choose it still.....Smart ?
And I for one don't care what happens to now less than 20% of you , that make the rest of us miserable and some of us that are very allergic, really sick
Not only second hand smoke but now 3rd hand smoke creates havoc on health....when you come back from smoking , you reek still, it's in your clothes and hair....and for those of you who put your children through this, shame on you
Posted by: Darwin List Recruitment Agent | Jun 19, 2021 5:02:37 PM
To Gisele... don't worry your pretty little head about it. As you're aware, we smokers will die much, much sooner than you. After we're gone, we'll watch you from above as you live to the ripe old age of 114 and are bed ridden in a plastic bubble with all types of chronic, non-deadly diseases, which of course, will cost the health system absolutely nothing. But that's OK too since you'll certainly have severe dementia and won't remember anything anyway.
Posted by: Elissa | Jun 19, 2021 5:11:09 PM
Ok, Gisele. First of all i didn't realize that there were indeed perfect individuals in the world. Now I can see that you must be one of them! Incredible! Because if you are going to put shame on an entire group of people for choices and mistakes that they have made in their lifetime, then you must be in a position of perfection to do that. And if by some miraculous chance that you have made a poor decision either for you or your children, I'm sure you would probably not be able to cope. Seriously, get real. Pull the stick from your anus and realize that you are no better than the hobo on the street. Take your nose out of the air, you're attitude REEKS and that make me really sick. Do not call people stupid, because there will be a time when u will fail.
Posted by: Max Power | Jun 19, 2021 5:17:03 PM
Managing at a high-tech firm, I found most "smokers" did a much better job than a non-smoker in the same role. I attributed this to the time they had while smoking to reflect back on whatever it was they were working on and come up with solutions they would not have if they were just staring at their monitors. The non-smokers breaks typically consisted of playing video games or chatting useless non-sense with fellow non-smokers. It would be a shame if companies adopted a no-smoking policy for new hires as they would very likely loose out on some of their best employees and best problem solvers.
To Gisele I say this - don't assume all smokers are "stupid" but I am sorry to hear of your allergy. Many of us "smokers" are likely much smarter than you but were unfortunately hooked on a drug while young by government and corporate actions/inactions due to their addiction to money. If you want to blame someone for your problem with cigarette smoke you should blame your government, who, for over 50+ years has known smoking will kill but don't want to loose the significant tax dollars by making it illegal.
Posted by: gisele sines | Jun 19, 2021 5:35:01 PM
To Dear Elissa....I am not perfect.....nothing changes the fact that if you inflict second and third hand smoke on your OWN children then you are committing a very stupid act......and if you take the time to reread your own words to me then !!!!! oh well I rest my case !!!!!
Posted by: bbninja66 | Jun 19, 2021 5:35:45 PM
Umm, i am allowed a break twice a day and lunch,. i have a smoke before work, at break, at lunch, at break, and afterwork. I'm in no fn' way costing them money for me to have a smoke. They other guys just sit at thier desks and eat. You are allowed a break you know we are not slaves. So they eat and get fat while i smoke and stay skinny. What ever happened to "to each their own" ya know. Your basing this on the fact that i will get sick and cost the company and health system but the reality is you dont know shit, but you act like you do. As long as fat people are allowed to eat during work breaks you can all suck it.
Posted by: bbninja66 | Jun 19, 2021 5:42:21 PM
You are infringing on my rights you know. I have a right to smoke, it is not illegal./ If you and every other person in this world really felt like it was that big of a burden on society why are we not pushing for smoking to be illegal/ WHY? They make laws all the time, wait they want all my tax money. Status quo for the earth, say one thing, do another.
Posted by: gisele sines | Jun 19, 2021 5:50:10 PM
To Max / I certainly should have said > a stupid act < as opposed to just stupid, however please forgive me if I don't believe a word of what you say regarding smokers and non smokers in your work force....and as far as most "us smokers" being smarter than "moi" , that could be, but certainly they are not better spellers....so I would " lose" the "loose" if I were you and the nonsense too while you are at it
I certainly blame the government for allowing this problem to continue for so long but now with all our information regarding this subject, it is up to us " the people " to do the right thing and stop hurting other folks with the smoke....it's never too late to do the right thing
Posted by: Amous | Jun 19, 2021 9:51:29 PM
You want to play Russian roulette with your own life, go for it. Put the bullet in the chamber, and eventually, odds are … It is a shame though that there is so much collateral damage along the way to family, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and other innocent lives. Addiction schmadiction, why do I or any other employer care what your pathetic reasons are for knowingly killing yourself, and affecting your coworkers and the bottom line. For you less intelligent out there, suck it up, profit is not a dirty word. A company has to make a profit to stay in business and reinvest in itself, and owners or shareholders are entitled to a profit and return on their investment. For those that work for wages because they don’t want to or can’t put their own money on the line to start a business and hire employees to perform work, if/when you are taking all those extra breaks because your poor pathetic addiction needs to be fed, or you need that next trip to your doctor during work hours by taking a sick day instead of taking a vacation day, try getting it through your thick skull … smoking was and is a choice YOU made. That does not entitle you to anything other than the hatred of your coworkers that see the extra time you think you’re entitled to for breaks and time off, the bewilderment of everyone that knows how harmful it is to all, and the cost, both physical and monetary to everyone. To the stupid asses that think people want to be obese, or otherwise legitimately, not self impaired, get informed before you open your mouth and show everyone how stupid you actually are.
Posted by: Amous | Jun 19, 2021 9:54:37 PM
Btw, I am an ex-smoker that started when I was eight years old, and smoked for nearly thirty years. I quit cold-turkey almost twenty years ago, and I don’t care if people smoke, even around me, however, I do care about productivity, fairness, seeing my friends and coworkers live a long healthy life, and a healthy bottom line. Smokers on mass are weak, stupid if they don’t realize or care how much extra time off is being taken as addicts, and a drain on society, whether it’s in their working life, while society is caring for them as they die, or while society is taking care of the mess they’ve created through all the collateral damage.
Also, even a power smoking two pack a day smoker cannot smoke a cigarette in one minute, nor do they try. A quick exit to get a fix is disruptive, and turns into an opportunity to be social. It costs businesses serious amounts of money, and puts upon every other individual picking up the slack The problem is exacerbated by the combined loss of productivity, the inevitable lack of concentration, and the f#%k you attitude of smokers toward authority and coworkers. On top of the direct disruption, time has to be spent by management handling the fallout with other non-smoking individuals that are put-upon as a result of insensitive smokers … insensitive and uncaring about the problems they cause by their attitudes and impact on others. Every extra fifteen minutes per day adds up to over two hours per week per person an employer is expected to accept as a delusional addicts right! I don’t think so. I say f#%k you! Get to work, and smoke on your own time, where it doesn’t impact anyone but yourself. In answer to this articles question ~ although it may eliminate a potentially small number of somewhat bright, although weak and unenlightened individuals ~ not hiring smokers would eliminate a lot of problems for employers. Otherwise, inevitably, because smokers just don’t get it, it will be necessary for employers to implement a strict smoking policy, or to outright ban smoking from the premises. Have a nice day!
Posted by: Tulla | Jun 20, 2021 8:01:47 PM
Well, I am thinking there is a lot of hostility built up by ex smokers. Hmmmm...if you can actually count the minutes it takes an employee to have a smoke, you sure must miss it, and are angry cause you can't have one lol I know it's not a good habit, but... please don't tell me that you all that don't smoke have some other addiction. There is no one in this world that is perfect, so please don't feed me the crap you are. I work with mostly non smokers, and they miss more work than me, being sick or running to the doctor, go figure. I take my 15 min allowed breaks, and who cares if I go outside away from my desk to do so, at least I get some fresh air and sun, instead of sitting behind my computer radiating waves to my eyes which is known to cause dry eyes and other medical issues, as well as our good ol cells that have been said to cause cancer from the waves it sends out. But...no one ever thinks of that, and that's probably hurting you more. And we are allowing our children to use both these items from a very young age, so do you think this will hurt them? Plus, it is causing obesity in our young children cause they don't know how to go outside like us smokers do :-) Think about it. :-)
Posted by: George Brown | Jun 21, 2021 2:55:42 PM
Tulla is a retard...