the map to watch: smoker protection laws

April 18, 2013

in tobacco cessation

in a recent post, i offered some thoughts on no-hire tobacco policies.

now marketplace’s pulled together a map to show which states have smoker protection laws. generally speaking, these laws prevent employers from implementing no-hire tobacco policies and from firing employees who use tobacco away from the worksite and during non-work hours.

the map’s content really isn’t that helpful. it gives you the year the state enacted the law and the statute number. you can find that on wikipedia. what is interesting, however, is to see how many states have passed a law offering such protection. today, the number’s 29, plus the district of columbia.

this is the map to watch.

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Bethany Garrity April 18, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I have mixed feelings about such no-hire policies and the laws that prevent them. What about no-hire obesity, no-hire heart disease, no-hire you-have-two-small-children. Yes, I’m being a little flip, but I think this gets back to us vs them, how employers view employees, the use of “human capital” to describe your workforce, etc. Yes, tobacco users, those who are obese, those with heart disease, those with little children may cost the employer more. But they may also be the best fit for your opening and they just might be the one to lead that division/department (or more) to greatness. If your tobacco user pulls in ridiculous amounts of revenue…do you still care if he smokes?

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fran April 19, 2013 at 9:53 am

bethany,

thanks for reading and commenting. i don’t know the answer to your question, and i would hazard a guess that it depends on the company. a company that’s taking a hard line on health might look at it one way while another company that’s focusing on bottom-line costs might answer another.

did you read the NEJM articles i shared earlier? the authors did an excellent job wrestling with these sorts of questions and trying to provide some points of view. in one, the authors propose policies like no-hire policies are seen today as policies affecting the individual, but over time they’ll be viewed as policies that protect our public health. i can see that with pricing and taxation, advertising laws, and such. i struggle when it comes to no-hire policies and other incentive struggles that don’t recognize why individuals often have unhealthy behaviors: the neighborhood they were born into, the education they have, the disposable income they may not have, and so forth.

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