Social groups create deviants by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance, and by applying those rules to particular people and labeling them as outsiders.
– Howard Becker. “Outsiders….” Free Press 1963.
While discrimination is more of a practical matter than a psychological tool, it is valued by Antismokers as a means of adding an extra element of fear or cost to the practice of smok-ing. It also reinforces the earlier-mentioned notion that smokers are somehow abnormal and unworthy of the usual rights and privileges of a “normal” nonsmoking person, thereby contributing to the overall goal of denormalization.
Aside from a recent but disturbingly increasing trend toward housing discrimination, discrimination against smokers exists in two main arenas: jobs and medical care. Usually Crusaders will attempt to justify such discrimination by claiming that smokers are deficient in various ways that make them less fit for those jobs and care. However, the telltale indicator that we’re dealing with true discrimination here is that fitness is not the actual test: smoking status is.
While it may be true that on the average heavy smokers would be less fit to carry unconscious victims down four flights of stairs in a burning building, or less likely on the average to survive a grueling surgery, it’s also true that a person’s smoking status is just one of many factors that determine such things. In actual fact of course there are millions of smokers who are more “fit” than millions of nonsmokers for virtually any job or medical procedure. Smoking may be a factor, it may even be an important factor, in determining one’s fitness, but it should never be used as a litmus test for something as vital to fundamental rights as being considered for a job or an operation. The theoretical behavior modification benefit of forcing some smokers to quit is clearly not worth the human cost in this area.
While firings of police and firefighters provide one of the most highly publicized examples of job discrimination based on smoking status they do not stand alone. Turner Broadcasting Systems, Seattle’s Providence Hospital, Kimball Physics, Goodman Manufacturing, North Miami, St. Cloud, Oklahoma City and many other local governments and private companies, often at the behest of activist Crusaders in internal power positions, have attempted to make it clear that they will not hire smokers or have placed extreme restrictions on employees smoking even off-site at company functions. Some employers will actually fire anyone who has filled out a job application as “nonsmoking” only to be discovered smoking at a celebration or family gathering at some future date (“First Massachusetts Firefighter Fired…” Associated Press 10/31/02; John Makeig. “Fuming Woman Fired…” Houston Chronicle 10/22/96; “Fired Cop…” Associated Press 06/23/03).
Smokers facing instances of such discrimination usually experience shocked disbelief. A common theme in the letters received by groups like FORCES and smokersclub.com is “How can they DO this in America??? Isn’t this against the law?” The answer, sadly, is no, it is perfectly legal: smokers are not a “protected group” in many states and Antismoking organizations have campaigned vigorously against laws that would define them as such.
Stephen King fans may remember the short story “Quitters Inc.” in which the hapless protagonist was faced with dire reprisals from a Mafioso Quit Smoking Clinic if he relapsed. The reality of losing one’s job and then perhaps one’s house and one’s family because you lit up a cigar to celebrate your brother’s new baby boy is a possibility smokers actually have to consider in today’s weird new Antismoking world. In Mayor Bloomberg’s New York, workers who have the misfortune to get their pictures taken while on a smoke break may find themselves fired even if their break was legal and within time limits! (Editorial. NY Post 10/24/02). In Massachusetts photographic evidence isn’t even required: in mid 2003 a 7-year veteran of the police force in that state was fired after an anonymous letter claimed he was spotted smoking tobacco at a party while off duty (The Herald News. 06/23/03).
Antismoking employers will sometimes try to justify such discrimination on the grounds of expense, pointing out that health insurance costs for the company may go down if they hire only nonsmokers. If such is indeed the case in a particular instance it’s difficult to see why the company cannot simply pass the extra cost along to the smoking employee.
Of course if a company wanted to honestly get into this type of cost differentiation for its benefit programs it would have to cut smoking employees’ contributions to retirement and pension funds. Certainly the same information used to justify the extra health payments would be reflected in the opposite direction when smoking employees retired and presumably died earlier than the nonsmokers. In practice, the absence of this reverse type of computation shows the inherent nastiness and pecuniary motivation behind such calculation and discrimi-nation. Nevertheless, most Antismokers loudly insist on one side of the pie while ignoring the fact that real fairness would dictate the other side must be eaten as well.
At one point several years ago there was some discussion as to whether Federal Acquisition Regulations that forbid contracting to any organization that discriminates in employment for non-work-related reasons might protect smoking employees, but somehow this problem seems to have been solved by the Antismokers. In any event, job discrimination on the basis of normally legal activities seems to be alive and well in America as smokers may have the notable distinction of being the only group in modern America who are commonly told that they “Need Not Apply” for an increasing number of jobs. Note: these prohibitions are not simply rules prohibiting smoking ON the job… but prohibitions against the hiring of smokers altogether!
Most of us are aware that most decent jobs require a certain level of education. In Brazil nowadays it can be hard for a smoker to even get that education in order to apply for a job. Brazil’s Centro Universitario da Cidade has begun giving notice to applicants that it will no longer accept applications from stu-dents “who cannot control their addiction.” While a spokesman for the country’s Lawyers’ Association has expressed doubts about the legality of such a move, at the present time it seems to be the de-facto situation for smoking Brazilians (Ananova 08/08/02).
Medical discrimination is even more disturbing than job discrimination. It has become increasingly common in recent years for doctors and surgeons to insist that patients give up smoking if they wish to receive the benefit of certain types of medical care and procedures. Such doctors are probably largely drawn from the ranks of The Idealists, with their motivation being the feeling that those demands ultimately result in more patients quitting and therefore supposedly living longer lives.
Sometimes such medical discrimination can seem almost innocent: a doctor is rightly concerned about a patient’s health, and, as part of good medical practice, should instruct that patient about the effect lifestyle choices can have on health. It’s only when the doctor oversteps the bounds of such education and advice into the territory of threatening the patient with the withholding of care that the situation becomes actually scary, and anyone who has experienced the helplessness that comes with hospitalization or acute illness will know that scary can quickly become truly terrifying.
Most people know that at some point they will be entrusting their doctor with their lives. Most people do not want to do or say anything that will alienate this person in whom they must trust. When a doctor makes clear that he or she “won’t care about you unless you care about yourself” by giving up smoking, the patient is in a bind. If they simply refuse to cooperate they’re literally placing their lives at risk.
The only practical alternative for most smoking patients is to claim that they are trying to quit and perhaps even to accept the doctor’s pressure to take prescription drugs to help them in their non-existent efforts. And while most doctors are above such shenanigans there is certainly a subset that greatly enjoys the extra rewards they get from the pharmaceutical companies when they’ve shown special diligence in writing multiple pre-scriptions for various forms of “Nicotine Replacement Therapy” and pricey antidepressants.
As I write this, I can only hope that my own doctor, if he reads this book, will be fair-minded enough not to discharge me as a patient. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with a pretty wonderful doctor and such an occurrence would be extremely unlikely. He is the polar opposite of the subset just discussed. Still, it’s a sad state of affairs that such a concern should even come to mind as a possibility. If my doctor were an ardent Antismoker someone such as myself could be risking his or her life simply writing by writing a book like this: not unknown in world political reality (just ask Salmon Rushdie!), but sad to see in today’s America.
It’s in the world of surgery where we move from the simply “scary” into the realm of the macabre and terrifying. We must start off by acknowledging that in practice there may be situations where a person’s smoking status can honestly be an important component of a medical decision for surgery, not so much because of the status itself, but because of conditions thought to be aggravated by smoking.
For example, a particularly risky and prolonged operation designed primarily to improve a patient’s general quality of life might not be the right choice if the patient’s respiratory health or peripheral vascular circulation is particularly poor. If the patient is a heavy smoker the doctor might recommend that they quit smoking in the hope that their respiratory or circulatory system will rebound to a point where such surgery is less risky. There’s nothing particularly wrong, at least from the standpoint of medical ethics, with such an approach to optional surgery.
However, if the patient’s respiratory or vascular health improves without quitting smoking, to continue to withhold the surgery should be clearly unethical. Imagine a less contentious area of concern: suppose such surgery were being withheld on the basis of a patient’s high blood pressure and the surgeon said “Lose 50 pounds to bring that pressure down or I won’t operate.” Now if, instead of losing 50 pounds, the patient embarked on a reduced-sodium diet combined with an exercise program that lowered their blood pressure, would it be ethical for the surgeon to continue withholding surgery on the grounds that the patient really should lose 50 pounds anyhow? Of course not: so why is such reasoning not applied equally to the question of smoking and surgery?
I believe that the most dangerous and alarming examples of this type of medical discrimination lie not in the area of optional surgeries but in the area of necessary surgeries and organ transplants. If two otherwise similar people are listed as needing a new heart and one of them smokes, should the smoker be disqualified or moved lower on the list simply because of their practice? The Antismoker argument holds that the value of the new heart would be greater for the nonsmoker because the nonsmoker will live longer and supposedly places more value on his or her life.
This is not paranoid fantasy. There has already been a case in Australia where a 56 year-old man died after being denied an organ transplant because he refused to take the doctor’s advice to quit smoking (Rortvedt. Beyond California 03/13/01). Austin physician Lou Irving questioned smoker transplants because “It is consuming resources for someone who is contri-buting to their own demise” (Tanya Taylor. heraldsun.com.au 02/08/01). Dr. Joel Cooper, a lung transplant surgeon from Washington University, who has successfully transplanted a number of lungs, has made quite clear that he wants only those who have quit smoking to participate in his procedures (http:// wupa.wustl.edu/record/archive/1995/08-17-95/6595.html).
But what if we’re talking about a 50-year-old nonsmoker who has advanced arteriosclerosis, failing kidneys, and a bad liver versus a 20-year-old otherwise healthy smoker whose heart was damaged in a car crash? In this case the smoker would have the longer life expectancy.
Should smokers still be excluded simply because of their past sins or their reluctance to sign a paper committing themselves to behave in a societally approved manner for the rest of their lives? Certainly in such a situation most people would simply lie in the interest of self-preservation, but what if the evil motive of monetary gain should rear its head afterwards as such a lie comes to the surface?
Should self-interested insurance companies or cash-strapped hospitals be empowered to watch over the postoperative smoker and garnishee their future wages or take back an organ if they should ever be caught with a cigar or cigarette? The job of Repo Man might take on a sinister new meaning in the future.
Postoperative outcomes and life expectancies depend upon a multitude of factors. Heart transplant candidates who eat vegetarian diets and exercise would usually be better bets for long-term success than meat and potatoes couch potatoes. Would it be correct for the medical community and society at large to attempt to force dietary and lifestyle changes on people through the threat of withholding the promise of life? Obviously the ethical answer is no… but the sad reality is that in practice smokers are running into such threats with increasing frequency and this seems to be a tendency that will expand into the future if it’s not addressed soon.
A related, though less direct, form of medical discrimination occurs when smokers delay seeking medical advice because of concerns about general interactions with medical personnel. A 60-year-old lifelong smoker who is also a regular alcohol user and who develops a persistent cough and hoarseness should definitely consult a doctor. That combination of history and symptoms is strongly indicative of forms of throat cancer that can be successfully treated if caught early enough.
… surgeons at Melbourne's top hospitals… are denying smokers elective treatment… lung and heart transplants, lung reduc-tion surgery, artery by-passes and coronary artery grafts.
…respiratory physician Associ-ate Professor Greg Snell said reasons for the ban were medical and moral… ‘It is within our mandate to ration services and smoking is one way to define the patient population.’
-- “Surgery ban on smokers.” Taylor. op.cit.
Unfortunately, many such individuals will delay a necessary doctor’s visit simply because they know they’ll be lectured and berated about their health habits and because they feel they won’t be helped unless they agree, either honestly or dishonestly, to radically change those habits. Thus, what might well have been treatable disease becomes an early death… not because of outright discrimination but because of fears of discrimination and mistreatment.
Another unfortunate side effect of this medical discrimination has been the recent flurry of discussion and activity around the concept of smokers boycotting blood and organ donor programs. Many smokers seem to feel that if such programs discriminate against them on the receiving side there’s no reason why they should participate in the giving side. Losing a quarter or a third of potential donors and blood givers is a high price to pay for this sort of discrimination.
As surprising as it might seem to the general public, many smokers seem to be both fully aware of and quite angry about this situation. If a full-blown boycott was to develop and a backlash was then created by radical Antismokers to deny all blood and organ supplies to smokers we’d have a real societal crisis on our hands.
As smokers become increasingly angry about unfair taxation and generalized discrimination at all levels of their lives the possibility of such spontaneous or organized actions and the unfortunate outcomes that would result becomes greater. At such a point, all of us, smokers and nonsmokers alike, would be the losers.
Hello group members, I am a smoker of 28 years with a problem on the job with a jerk of a boss to work for. I recently transfered to another facility to improve production percentages. I have worked for the same company for the last 7 years and am used to taking 2 cigarette brakes before and after lunch brake. I am one of the best if not the best when it comes to utilizing my time and increasing production. I am not a forman because I would work more hours and make less pay. My foreman asked where I was going and I told him I was going going to have a quick cigarette which I did at the other plant I used to work for. He told me that he could not let me do that. What he does not understand is in order for me to think and to utilize my speed and accuracy I cannot and will not function properly and my piecework goes due south. You know people want you to quit but there are also those people that think they can dictate and push smokers around and take away there rights! I do not know why but for some reason it just seems that ex-smokers are the hardest to get along with. I am scared of losing my job and dread going into work. I do not want to go to second shift because I have a wife and 2 children that I support. You dont want to know what I want to tell this guy because this post would not be approved by the group owner. I can understand being in the same room or a closed in facility. What makes it worse is he lets the assitant foreman go outside anytime he wants to smoke but we production workers get the shaft which is a doublestandard. I think that is one of the reasons I still smoke is because of people with sorry attitudes like that make life hard. If I do ever quit smoking I want to help people quit not be a real jerk towards people. Smokers seem to get a lot of disrespect and you know if you respect others in most cases others will respect you. I am going to human relations but a bigger problem is the owners son who is money hungry belives everybody should not smoke or drink or whatever. I hope I can find a solution to this problem and no I refuse to quit smoking!!!!!!! At least the person for human relations smokes so hopefully I have a shot! George
Attention News/Labour/Health Editors: Smoking policy discriminates against Cape Breton hospital employees SYDNEY, NS, June 29 /CNW/ - A workplace smoking policy set to begin on July 1 in nine health care facilities across Cape Breton will discriminate against employees who smoke. That charge comes today from the union representing more than 400 clerical workers with the Cape Breton District Health Authority, District 8, CUPE Local 2431. CUPE National Representative Jacquie Bramwell says, "Starting July 1, smoking will no longer be permitted in employees' own vehicles, or in any of the parking lots. Smoking in designated shelters will be allowed for certain patients only. We appreciate the fact that the District recognizes that smoking is an addiction and are allowing some patients to smoke; however, we believe that consideration be afforded employees also." The affected facilities are Cape Breton Regional Hospital, Glace Bay Health Care, Harbourview Hospital, New Waterford Consolidated Hospital, Northside General Hospital, Taigh Na Mara in Glace Bay, Inverness Consolidated Hospital, Buchanan Memorial and Sacred Heart Community Health Care in Cheticamp. "This employer has crossed the line with this new policy. While we all know that in a perfect world, no one would smoke, the reality is that some people still do, including workers in the health care sector," says Bramwell. "These employees, many of whom work shift work, are being told that at three o'clock in the morning, on their 15 minute coffee break, they will have to leave the hospital premises entirely if they want to smoke. This poses major security issues for our members. It is an unacceptable position for this employer to take," says Bramwell. The union says grievances will be filed and they have written to human resources on the matter but have had no reply. Bramwell says, "The employer has offered smoking cessation programs, which is all fine and well, but these programs take time and are not always successful. "With this new smoking policy, certain hospital patients now have rights that hospital employees no longer enjoy. This is patently unfair and discriminatory," she adds. For further information: Jacquie Bramwell, CUPE National Rep., (902) 539-4933 (o); John McCracken, CUPE Communications Rep., (902) 455-4180 (o)
In response to the article on job discrimination I just sent the following to the NBC-2 Comments:The Charlotte County Sherriff's decision to discriminate against hiring smokers is supposedly an economic one: "By stomping out smokes, the sheriff's office saved money on its group insurance plan." according to your Feb. 19th news story.Is it truly based on economics though, or is it simple discrimination against smokers using economics as an excuse? There's a simple test: The office could commit itself to hiring an economist who would look at overal costs of both health care and retirement pay and benefits. If the economists determined that smokers died sufficiently sooner from their habit so as to give the department an overall savings, and if the Sheriff is telling the truth about the "economic motivation" being the real basis for his decision, then the department would naturally be forced to institute a policy of hiring ONLY smokers.Is such a thing likely to happen? Of course not. Why? Because the claim that the discrimination is simple economics is a lie. The decision would NEVER be made to go "the other way" on the hiring policy simply because of economics: the economic issue only comes into play when it justifies what is actually the preferred type of discrimination to begin with.Or am I wrong? Does the Sheriff have the moral conviction to make the opposite decision and stand by his economic priniciples if such a finding were made? Is he indeed telling the truth? Why don't you ask him?Michael J. McFadden
HoustonChronicle.com -- http://www.HoustonChronicle.com | Section: Business Oct. 30, 2004, 4:53PM Important addition to résumé: nonsmoker Some argue policies are a form of discrimination By SHIRLEEN HOLTSeattle Times SEATTLE - The help-wanted ad said "nonsmoker." This was a problem for Patty Hensley, who had been addicted to nicotine since age 14. ADVERTISEMENT But she needed a job, so she pulled a ploy familiar to thousands of smokers caught between a vicious habit and a growing workplace stigma: She smoked out the car window on the way to the job interview."I thought that was a way to hide it," said Hensley, 49.Hensley, who quit smoking for good (she hopes) last November, didn't get that job. Like many smokers, she was at a disadvantage when it came to competing for work. Rising health-insurance costs, worries about declining productivity and general disdain for the habit have turned some smoke-free workplaces into smoker-free workplaces businesses that refuse to hire smokers at all, even if they never fire up a cigarette during work hours."We know that demographically approximately 25 percent of the adult population smokes, and that 25 percent tends to have less desirable characteristics in terms of employment," said Dieter Benz, a principal with Investors Property Management in Seattle. "Some of our people are out in the field every day, and they present an image to the public."Smoking "is not the image that we want." Put it out Although Benz's company relies on the honor system to ferret out job candidates who smoke, others take stricter measures. In states that allow it, some companies ask for proof. In Washington, Alaska Airlines requires potential hires to take nicotine tests before granting them jobs, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department makes applicants sign an "affidavit of nontobacco use" and to promise to "educate" citizens caught smoking within 50 feet of the building.Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman, Wash., warns on its Web site that it may fire anyone who starts smoking after being hired.Benz, a former smoker himself, is unapologetic about his smoker-free workplace policy, as well as the rule against allowing tenants to smoke in the buildings his company manages. Health costs Businesses have reason to worry about their employees' health. Employer-sponsored health insurance premiums have increased by doubledigits for the last four years,rising nearly 14 percent in 2003. Family coverage now costs about $9,000 a year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and individual plans an average of $3,400.Smokers cost employers an average of $753 per year more in medical costs than nonsmokers and miss an average of two more workdays a year than nonsmoking colleagues, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department's literature states.Activists contend, however, that employers are selectively targeting smokers while ignoring other health risks that cost them even more.In a 1999 study of more than 46,000 employees, the Health Enhancement Research Organization, a national coalition of hospitals and public health organizations, found that medical costs for workers suffering from stress, obesity or depression were higher than for employees who smoked."Everything we do affects our health," said Lewis Maltby, director the National Workrights Institute, a spinoff of the American Civil Liberties Union. "What you eat, whether you drink, what your hobbies are, whether you practice safe sex. If employers are allowed to control off-duty behavior when it's health-related, we will have no private lives left."Twenty-nine states apparently shared this concern, enacting lifestyle-discrimination laws that prohibit employers from refusing to hire workers for their private legal behaviors. That includes smoking, drinking or overeating.Smokers, like obese workers, are not protected by civil rights laws that cover religion, race, ethnicity, age, gender or disability. Challenges ahead Just because it's legal, however, doesn't mean it's wise, says Mike Reilly, a Seattle attorney who represents employers in discrimination cases. "Even though the law might not be completely favorable right now, I can see theories that plaintiffs lawyers could argue," he said.If smoking is common among members of a protected class, for example, lawyers could argue that an employer's nonsmoker policy disproportionately discriminates against that class, a legal theory called "disparate impact."The ACLU has already raised the topic, citing demographic data that shows that blacks and young women smoke in disproportionately high numbersand thus could be unfairlytargeted by anti-smoking policies."Ultimately the employer should be trying to hire the most competent person for the job," Reilly said. "An absolute rule of not hiring someone because they're a smoker is not recommended."Seattle wellness consultant Larry Chapman cautions employers from becoming too punitive when it comes to health matters.He conducted controlled experiments in the late 1980s in which groups of soldiers at Carswell Air Force Base competed against each other to become the healthiest team.The harsher the squadron commanders were in forcing the men to lose weight, lower their cholesterol and reduce their smoking, the more some soldiers resisted."They ended up putting on weight, eating lots of fatty foods and starting to smoke," said Chapman. "That was their way of rebelling."While Chapman supports the pay-to-play concept where smokers pay more of their health insurance premiums than nonsmokers he says the best programs offer more rewards than punishments."We'd rather see people not gang up on the smoker. The smokers in our country have had a lot of adverse social pressure," he said. "I'd rather not add to that."
Philadelphia Inquirer, 03/31/91: Two officials at the Ford Meter Box Co. in Wabash, Ind. pulled Janice Bone aside and escorted her from the plant. Bone is a smoker, and although she did not smoke on the job, Ford's policy barred her from smoking at all. "I was very shocked. It's devastating when this happens to you", said Bone. 1 According to a 1988 survey taken by the Administrative Management Society, 6% of all employers (about 6,000 companies) now discriminate against off-duty smokers. The number has almost certainly increased since then. · Cardinal Industries refuses to hire smokers stating it "only hires nonsmokers and gives every applicant a urine test and promises to fire those who say they have quit, but don't." Company Press Release Source: Action on Smoking and Health ASH: Parental Smoking Kills 6,200 Kids Each Year and Costs $8.2 Billion; But Law Is Finally Beginning to Crack Down on Major Form of Child Abuse; At Least Fifteen States Will Take Away Custody if Necessary to Protect Kids Your job could be on the line if the boss disapproves of your 'lifestyle', says Giles Coren WHEN Janice Bone was called into her boss's office only days after starting work as a secretary in an engineering company, the last thing she imagined was that she had failed the mandatory drugs test. But so it proved. Heroin addict? Crack victim? Acid casualty? Not a bit of it. The routine urine sample taken by the company doctor had shown up traces of the six cigarettes she had smoked the previous weekend. She was fired on the spot. It comes as no surprise to learn that this hysterical over-reaction took place in the United States - Indiana, to be more precise. According to this month's GQ magazine, it is the thin end of a wedge RESEARCHER SUES RI HOSPITAL Last March, Rhode Island Hospital fired microbiologist Rodrick Chiodini for allegedly violating its no-smoking policy. The hospital then had his research equipment loaded into a truck and deposited at a warehouse in East Providence. According to affidavits filed in Chiodini's pending lawsuit against the hospital in Superior Court, moving the equipment into an unheated warehouse may have destroyed years of his important research. Chiodini is one of the world's most prominent investigators of Crohn's disease, a chronic inflammation of the intestine. If Chiodini's cultures of Crohn's disease have been destroyed, says Dr. Walter Thayer, the hospital's chief of gastroenterology, the search for the disease's cause and cure will be substantially set back. ``What was lost was invaluable,'' says Thayer. The hospital's treatment of Chiodini was ``outrageous,'' he says, adding, ``They just didn't punish Rod, they punished all these people with Crohn's disease.''
A pro-smoking group has condemned a firm in Swindon which allegedly sacked a worker for smoking at home. The freedom organisation for the right to enjoy smoking tobacco (Forest) says it is worried that workers could eventually be breathalysed to ensure they have not smoked. Sales executive Mark Hodges, 41, says he was sacked on the second day of his job because his employers frowned on the habit. He had been told of the firm's no smoking policy at his interview for the £28,000 job at Boxes and Packaging. But Mr Hodges told The Times newspaper he had assumed that only applied at the office and in his company car. He said he had let slip to his new employers on his first day that he smoked at home. Mr Hodges of Calne, Wiltshire, was dismissed the next day with one month's pay in lieu. "I was sacked for smoking in my free time. I am angry and astounded I could be treated like that," he said. 'Extreme case' Forest spokesman Ben Williams told BBC News Online it was a "unique" case. "We see this as moving towards an Americanised state of discrimination. "We know of cases in the US where employees have been breathalysed when they got to work.
People & PlacesSmoking is out for firefighters hired by AmesThe city wants to bar disability claims tied to tobacco use.By DAVE ROEPKERegister Staff Writer11/27/2001New firefighters can expect to inhale some smoke in their careers, but in Ames that won't include cigarette smoke.A policy enacted last year prohibits new hires at the Ames Fire Department from using tobacco, on the job or off. Fire Chief Clint Petersen said city officials were concerned about the possible filing of insurance claims for lung- and heart-related diseases by firefighters who smoke."If a firefighter goes out on disability, it's the taxpayer who picks up the tab," Petersen said.Petersen said his department has included the nonsmoking clause in contracts for all firefighters hired since July 1, 2000. City officials do not test firefighters to make sure they're not using tobacco, though they could be fired for violating the policy."Firefighters are a very honorable group, and we take them at their word," Petersen said.Fire departments in Iowa and across the nation are beginning to crack down on smokers."You're seeing more and more of a focus" on keeping firefighters healthy, including smoking bans and regular physicals, said Epworth Fire Chief Tom Hancock.The Ames prohibition is probably the strictest in the state, said Erika Wilkins, spokeswoman for the Iowa League of Cities."I don't know of any other city with that kind of policy," Wilkins said.Rules in other Iowa cities vary. Firefighters in Des Moines can't smoke in city buildings or city vehicles, the same as any other city employee. Waterloo firefighters can smoke in designated areas in the station, while Iowa City firefighters can't smoke anywhere the public might see them, such as at the scene of a fire.The Ames rule "is definitely pretty strict," said Brian Platz, an Iowa City firefighter and a vice president of the Iowa Firemen's Association.Eric Facio, president of the firefighters union in Ames, said he knew of no complaints about the policy."If it gives us healthier firefighters, I'm all for it," Facio said. "It's just a matter of changing the lifestyle."George Burke, a spokesman for the International Association of Firefighters, said fire departments that regulate smoking "are not very common, but it is a growing trend. It's meant to be positive, not punitive, in nature."Restricting new firefighters from any tobacco use is the most strict regulation Burke has seen."That's usually as far as they go," he said. "We haven't seen any departments telling longtime smokers they have to quit altogether."The Iowa League of Cities plans to lobby state legislators in next year's session to pass a law allowing cities to challenge job-related insurance claims from firefighters and police with heart- and lung-related diseases if they smoke.Wilkins said Iowa does not allow cities to challenge heart- and lung-related claims by smokers, while neighboring states do. Heart and lung diseases account for 37 percent of claims Iowa cities pay for accidental disabilities, she said."This might be a good time to look at this, with budgets as tight as they are," Wilkins said.
I found Workplace Rights-Lifestyle Discrimination
1.1 It shall be illegal for an employer to discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of that person's conduct during non working hours away from the employer's premises or on the basis of personal characteristics unless that conduct or characteristic affects the person's ability to properly fulfill the responsibilities of the position in question.
1.2 No employer shall collect information about the off-duty behavior or personal characteristics of employees or applicants which would not be a legitimate basis for personnel decisions under section 1.1.
Smoking ban for applicants reduced reported by Amy OshierLast updated: February 19, 2004 05:11 PM CHARLOTTE COUNTY, February 19, 2004— The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office just made it easier for some people to get a job. Almost two years ago the agency started requiring job applicants to sign an affidavit swearing they hadn't smoked in the past year. But administrators made a major change on Thursday that may give smokers a second wind.* Email this story* Send us your comments on this story "We had a one year ban on smoking for all applicants for the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office and after discussion with staff we've reduced that ban to a 60 day," said Captain Dan Libby of the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.The sheriff's office is still a smoke-free workplace because administrators believe it makes dollars and sense.By stomping out smokes, the sheriff's office saved money on its group insurance plan. The agency still benefits by hiring only people who haven't smoked in two months, but some smokers still feel their rights are being trampled on."It's total discrimination," said nurse Allison Doherty.Doherty says the shortened time-frame only clouds the issue."There's nothing that says an employee who smokes can't work in the workplace and do their smoking outside," said Doherty.It was not arguments like Doherty's that prompted the agency to lighten up. They lightened up because they were losing out on experienced jail guards and certified officers."The one year ban was pretty extensive time-wise and they would find other employment so we wanted to increase the pool of qualified applicants," said Libby.Cutting the ban from 12 months to 2 could help people who want to kick the habit."I mean if it's a job that I really, really needed to have I probably would try to quit for a while to get that job," said Champ Smith.So prospective employees turned away because they smoked in the last year are welcome to re-apply.
http://www.brandonsun.com/displayad.cgi?adnum=771Thursday, November 18 2004Maple Leaf workers upset over butting outMelissa RidgenLocal NewsBRANDONSUNSunday, November 15 2004771Maple Leaf Pork has taken the puff out of pork puff.The processor has made its Richmond Avenue East property smoke-free to the dismay of many workers - 60 per cent of whom smoke - and they're complaining they now have only one opportunity to indulge in their habit during an eight-hour shift.The company invested close to $100,000 for a smoking area to meet strict ventilation requirements imposed by the city in conjunction with the 2002 municipal smoking ban.But provincial legislation that came into effect on Oct. 1 doesn't allow for separately ventilated smoking rooms and Stephen LeBlanc, director of human resources for Maple Leaf Pork, said forced the plant to butt-out altogether."We were still in active discussions with the province and the city (after the Oct. 1 smoking ban) ... and after exhausting all of our options, we made the plant smoke-free effective Nov. 8," LeBlanc said.Workers can't wear their whites outside for sanitary reasons and the only opportunity to change is during lunch if they're willing to take the time to venture off the expansive property for a smoke.It's all too much for some riled workers."You would think the employer would be more accommodating to the smokers - I think there are many more around than non-smokers," employee Heather Davis said in a letter to the Sun.Nearly 800 of Maple Leaf's 1,300 workers are smokers - a staggering number given that the national smoking rate is about one in five people.Imposing nicotine fits on more than half a workforce - many of whom work with knives - is "nice," Davis said sarcastically.The smoking ban doesn't only impact Maple Leaf employees.Truckers on a pickup or delivery at the plant, even in their own vehicles, have been told to butt out on Maple Leaf property."Let me tell you they aren't too happy," Davis said."Sometimes they sit for four hours waiting for a load and now they can't smoke in their truck because it's on the property. Crazy. This isn't a gas or petroleum plant, it is a hog plant."Maple Leaf doesn't want to run the risk of violating the provincial smoking legislation by allowing people to smoke in vehicles on plant property, according to LeBlanc."A vehicle is an enclosed space. Until we get further ruling on it we're asking people not to smoke on our property," LeBlanc said.Bars and restaurants can have outdoor patios where patrons can puff away, but Maple Leaf isn't a food and drink establishment.As well, workers can't wear their work clothes outside for sanitary reasons, so a an outdoor patio isn't the answer, LeBlanc said.In the first week of being smoke-free, comments from staff has reportedly been minimal."The only feedback I'm hearing is it's helping some people cutback or forcing them to think about quitting smoking," said the human resources director.Maple Leaf covers the cost of smoking cessation for its employees.LeBlanc isn't aware of anyone who has quit their job over the smoking email@example.com