Looking for a new job? Thinking of changing jobs in 2012? If you are a smoker or a nicotine user, your choices may be more limited as more employers are imposing hiring bans on smokers and testing applicants for nicotine.
Many hospitals and health systems are going the tobacco-free route. Not only are they expecting new hires to be tobacco-free, but they expect current tobacco-using employees to kick the habit. Their policies make sense since they are in the business of promoting health. Some hospitals have even adopted total tobacco-free campuses that extend to the general public; if you are a smoker and plan on visiting a patient, your clothes cannot smell like cigarette smoke.
Reducing insurance premiums is another reason why companies are pushing tobacco-free policies. Estimates on the cost of insuring tobacco users vary and range between $3,000 and $12,000 each year in health care and disability costs over non-smokers. Productivity costs are also higher because smokers take more breaks. If the average smoker takes four 15-minute breaks a day over the course of a 50 week work schedule, the company has lost 250 hours of productivity per year per smoker.
Smoker-hiring bans have been in place for decades, not just in the health care industry. But as the bans became more frequent, opponents and critics lobbied for smoker’s rights, citing discrimination against smokers. The tobacco industry and the American Civil Liberties Union have come to the defense of smoker’s, and protection laws have been passed in 29 states and the District of Columbia.
Smoking and tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the U.S., with 443,000 dying prematurely and 8.6 million living with a serious illness caused by smoking. Approximately 46.6 million U.S. adults feel it is their personal choice to continue to smoke. If the choice is between a new job opportunity or continuing to smoke, which choice will you make?