Fired for smoking?!  It hasn’t happened yet in Canada, but an increasing number of Canadians are joining the horde of US companies that are taking a hard-line stance for a smoke-free work environment.
The popular rationale for adopting anti-smoking policy consists of:

  • adherence to company ideology;
  • cost-cutting strategy;
  • and developing a healthier corporate culture.

According to a recent article from York Region, smokers cost employers “on average, $3,391 more a year each for health care and lost productivity…”  Companies that have already taken the plunge include: Alaska Airlines, Turner Broadcasting, the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society.  The Canadian Cancer Society has a specific policy that prohibits the hiring of smokers; whereas Southlake Regional Centre has a smoke-free work environment, but no policy restricting the hiring of smokers.  As you might imagine, a smoke-free work environment is more easily defended than a smoker-free workforce.
Because smoking is a physiological addiction, in order for Canadian companies to prohibit the hiring of smokers they would have to prove that “not smoking” is a bona fide occupational requirement.   The debatable question for Canadians is whether or not a company’s ideology is grounds for discrimination, and if so, to what extent?
If you are planning on applying for a job in health care, take the time to investigate your prospective employer’s policy on smoking – you might just need a few months to prepare for the interview questions.

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