That Smoke Could be Your Last One (on the Job)

Mar 4, 2011

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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