North American employment market discriminates against smokers

| March 18, 2013

North American employers are increasingly discriminating against smokers, but some groups, including a non-smokers’ rights association, believe that penalizing smokers is not the right way to go, according to a Canadian Television report.

The report said that an increasing number of businesses, including Ottawa-based Momentous Corp, stipulated ‘non-smokers only’ on their job postings.

“Everyone knows smoking kills you and we prefer to work with very intelligent people who aren’t choosing to kill themselves with every puff,” Rob Hall, Momentous Corp’s president, was quoted as saying.

But he added that this hiring policy had slashed in half the cost of employee health benefits.

Meanwhile, Stewart Harris, a law professor at Appalachian State University, said that smokers cost more money, missed more workdays and had more health problems.

But Arthur Schafer, an ethics consultant for the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the Health Sciences Centre, in Winnipeg, was quoted as saying that the policy of excluding smokers was the wrong approach for employers to take.

“I think most Canadians would recognize that most smokers are addicts and need assistance in breaking their addiction and shouldn’t be excluded as long as they are competent to do the job,” he said.

And Melodie Tilson, director of policy at the Non Smokers’ Rights Association, said not hiring smokers wasn’t going to help them end their addiction.

“Somewhere between two-thirds and three quarters of smokers, at any given time want to quit smoking, and they need help, they don’t need to be penalized,” she said.

Category: Breaking News

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