There is no doubt that there is a direct relationship between cigarette smoking and health problems that include cancer and heart attacks and strokes. In an attempt to minimize health care costs, Delray Beach, a city in Florida now has an official policy that smokers will not be hired for municipal positions.
The City Commission is expected to make official today a
non-smoker policy that took effect Monday. The city will no longer hire employees who regularly use tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, snuff or pipes.
Smokers can cost a company or government agency an average of $12,000 a year in health and disability-related costs.
The City Commission, except for Commissioner Angeleta Gray, agreed to move forward with the policy in July, saying that in tough budget times this was an easy way to save money and the right thing to do in terms of promoting healthy lifestyles among city employees.
While on the surface, it seems to be a great way for the city to save money on health care, it opens the door for the city to avoid hiring anyone with pre-existing medical condition. For example, I am currently being treated for both mental illness and cardiac problems. Even though I don’t smoke, the potential is there for someone like me to cost even more than a smoker.
Employees hired before Oct. 1 are exempt from the policy, but the city encourages all employees to take advantage of several smoking cessation classes offered throughout the year.
The city also charges a premium to the medical insurance premiums of employees who smoke, but offers free prescription medication to quit smoking.
I am very much in favour of employers encouraging healthy lifestyles for employees. I am very much against such discriminatory hiring practices.