Friday, December 09, 2011

Smoke-free versus Smoker-free Workplaces

In 2008, the most recent year for which figures are available, the tobacco industry spent an eye-popping $29 million every day advertising and promoting their products.

In searching for solutions to the devastating impact of the tobacco epidemic, it’s easy to understand why some employers are turning to “smoker free” workplaces. After all, smoking is estimated to cost nearly $100 billion in health care costs every year and another $100 billion in lost productivity. Not to mention the more than 400,000 Americans who die every year from tobacco-related disease. So employers might think that refusing to hire smokers and even firing employees who smoke is a good idea. Wouldn’t this kind of “tough love” have the triple benefit of encouraging smokers to quit, modeling positive behavior for others and reducing a company’s health care costs?

A growing number of employers, including some leaders in health care and public health, are buying this argument. But upon sober second thought, “smoker free” workplace policies emerge as a deeply flawed strategy. Refusing employment to smokers is not the answer to the vital public health issue of smoking and tobacco-related disease. Helping smokers quit through work-based cessation programs and smoke-free workplaces is the right way to go. Read more...


  1. Something not mentioned is the fact that more middle and lower class people are smokers and for people who smoke to be denied work just adds fuel to the fire of the sad economy we find ourselves in today. Talk about kicking a man when he is down.
    Now they are adding pv users to this process. Where does this line of thought come from and where are we going to be in 5 years? Does anyone really care? Such a sad state of affairs and I don't see a way out of this mess.

  2. I hear you G8rGrl, I here you.

    I will not deny the cost associated from loss of productivity are enormous in an unregulated work environment. However if employees only partook in their smoking habit during their lunch hour and breaks - this should be a non issue. But then again it wouldn't be Socialism either.