Should companies refuse to hire employees who smoke? Opposing views outlined

The growing controversy surrounding companies who refuse to hire employees who smoke is featured in two opposing opinion pieces in USA Today.

Paul Terpeluk, medical director of employee health services at Cleveland Clinic, explains why the policy makes sense for his company. “Consider that cigarette smoke contains hundreds of chemicals and compounds that are toxic and at least 69 that cause cancer,” he writes. “To ignore this would be to undermine our commitment to health and wellness, which includes providing a healthy environment for our employees, visitors and patients. Plus, the policy has not proved to be an overwhelming obstacle for job applicants. Since it was instituted, less than 2 percent of job offers — about 300 out of 20,000 — have been rescinded due to positive nicotine tests.” (Read more)
But a USA Today editorial expresses a different view, in response to Baylor Health Care System‘s move to stop hiring workers who smoke. “Intruding this deeply into people’s privates lives raises questions that bear scrutiny,” it reads. “Companies can charge smokers more for health coverage or ban smoking on the job. But punishing people for using a legal product on their own time crosses a troubling line.”
The editorial makes an exception for health-care companies who want to practice what they preach. “But such practices are not confined to the health care industry, and they raise a broader issue: If employers routinely reject people who engage in risky, but legal, behavior on their own time, what about such things are overeating or drinking too much alcohol?” (Read more)
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