Monday, October 03, 2011

More employers are banning tobacco use off the job as well as at work

Kerry Sanders of NBC reported Sunday that more employers are adopting a policy of hiring only non-smokers – of banning cigarette smoking and other tobacco use both on and off the job.

Among the employers: the Cleveland Clinic, Georgia Power, and Baylor.

Employers enforce their policy by testing urine for nicotine, similar to drug tests. Workers would have to be careful about attending indoor events where smoking is permitted (because of second-hand smoke) or even about second-hand smoke from other family members. The banning of smoking in all bars and restaurants in many cities might be helpful to job applicants now (and it has, in the long run, benefited restaurant and disco business). 

This practice is legal in 21 states. Libertarian philosophy, remember, would say private businesses should be able to do what they want; the market will ultimately enforce justice.  But employers have the upper hand now in a weak job market. 

This is quite a long way from the days that the New World colonies had used tobacco as currency because of English mercantilism in the 1600s.  It makes for quite an American history lesson. 

Privacy advocates wonder if employers could go after eating fatty foods next, or engaging in unprotected sex.

The employment practice could extend to other areas, such as the use of chewing tobacco in baseball. 

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