There once was a day when smoking cigarettes was the epitome of cool and glamour. We’re probably talking 1947, but still, there was a day.
Now? Many businesses, including hospitals, are going so far as to entirely prohibit the hiring of smokers. It’s become so uncool that businesses use smoking as an automatic disqualifier. Your resume could look like this…
- Life saving hero
- World nurse of the year, eight years running
- Voted most likely to cure a disease
…and get you nothing more than a form rejection letter from some paper pusher in human resources.
It’s a stark reality for smokers that was recently argued in a pair of articles in The New England Journal of Medicine, one of which stated:
A small but increasing number of employers — including health care systems such as the Cleveland Clinic, Geisinger, Baylor, and the University of Pennsylvania Health System — have established policies of no longer hiring tobacco users.
Argument for anti-smoker hiring practices
Reduces future costs, given that smokers, on average, cost employers several thousand dollars more each year than nonsmokers in health care expenses and lost productivity.
Introduces a higher level of intervention that gives people who have failed to quit in past attempts a greater incentive to finally do so.
Implementing these policies increases the stigma toward smokers, which has the effect of reducing smoking among the general population.
The effects of smoking are felt throughout society and not just within an individual. As such, there are many stakeholders that benefit from policies that discourage smoking.
Argument against anti-smoker hiring practices
Hiring policies against smokers unfairly target already disadvantaged demographic groups.
Employers can combat smoking through financial incentives and anti-smoking programs without having to deny smokers employment altogether.
It’s unethical to target one harmful activity while allowing other risky behaviors such as poor dietary habits.
Smoking is addictive and not entirely voluntary. It cannot be solely up to an individual to quit.
How do you feel about this hiring practice? Have you been personally affected in your own job search? Let us know in the comments and weigh in on our poll.