Are You Smoking Yourself Out of Job Opportunities?

Many employers have instituted smoke-free workplace policies, which means employees are not allowed to smoke within their facilities, and many times are limited to designated smoking areas.  There is now an increasing trend with employers refusing to hire people who smoke.  They have added continine testing (checking for a metabolite of nicotine) to their pre-employment screening process.

 You may be asking yourself, “What is up with that?”   Just take a look at some of these smoking statistics shared on the American Lung Association’s and American Cancer Society’s websites:

  • Cigarette smoke contains 4800 chemicals, 69 of which are known to cause cancer.  ExperTox tests for drugs, alcohol, poisons and toxic substances – this means we test for some of the stuff in cigarettes you want to prevent from putting in your body:
    • Acetone
    • Ammonia
    • Arsenic
    • Benzene
    • Cadmium
    • Formaldehyde
    • Lead
    • Methanol
    • Nicotine
    • Toluene
    • In 2004, smoking cost the United States over $193 billion, including $97 billion in lost productivity and $96 billion in direct healthcare expenditures. 
    • Smoking is responsible for 90% of all lung cancer deaths and 80% – 90% of COPD-related deaths.  There are about 443,000 lives claimed each year due to smoking-related diseases in the U.S.
    • Secondhand smoke involuntarily inhaled by non-smokers is classified by the U.S. EPA as a known human carcinogen

 Sure, the idea of companies not hiring people just because they smoke has caused some conflict but think about

  • Rising healthcare costs and what it is ultimately causing everyone to pay just because of about 25% of the population of smokers.
  • Declining productivity in this time where everyone is multi-tasking as the economy picks back up (“smoke breaks” can be time killers!)
  • What type of image is a smoker portraying to its customers, investors and other employees
  • And especially for health-related organizations such as hospitals and doctors’ offices, do employees of these types of companies that smoke give the impression of speaking out of both sides of their mouth?

 Bottom-line, we all know smoking is a bad habit that increases preventable disease and reduces mortality, and that cigarettes are filled with toxins.  Choosing to smoke is an informed decision by anyone – information is everywhere on its effects.

 What do you think of employers now performing pre-employment tests to determine if a candidate smokes?

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