In the very near future, it’s possible that smokers wanting to work for the city of Fort Worth, Texas, need not apply. That’s because local politicians are seriously considering making Fort Worth the first smoke-free city the world and refusing to hire anybody who smokes!
Why? Mayor Betsy Price has made it her mission to go smoke-free, and not just to protect workers and the public from secondhand smoke. But because budgets are tight, and the move could save the city, and the taxpayers, millions of dollars in medical expenses and lost productivity because of sick days.
As proof, she points to Baylor Healthcare System in Dallas. They stopped hiring smokers on January 1st and began offering programs to help current employees and their spouses stop smoking. Already, every dollar they spend on wellness saves the company nearly $3.
But Vince Chasteen doesn’t like it. He’s the president of the city’s employee association and he believes that refusing to hire smokers infringes on people’s rights to live their lives the way they want to. Bottom line: People should have the option to smoke — even if it means they have to pay more for their healthcare insurance than nonsmokers.
But employment attorneys say that refusing to hire smokers isn’t illegal. That’s because smokers aren’t a protected civil rights group, like women, minorities, or the disabled. And if companies believe they’ll save money, and protect the health of their workers by not hiring smokers, they can.
Additional source: John Tesh: Intelligence for Your Life (www.tesh.com).