Some of your employees may be a month into their New Year’s resolution to quit smoking. But what if you, as an organization, wanted to kick the habit in a different way— by refusing to hire employees that smoke?
It’s a growing trend among organizations that want to inject a healthier culture and cut down on their health care costs. The CDC says cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, yet about 34 million adults (nearly 14%) still currently smoke.
But such a tough no-nicotine hiring stance isn’t available for every employer. In fact, more than half the states have laws that protect smokers from being discriminated against by employers because of their nicotine use (see box at right).
And even if you can ban smokers from your staff, you may still want to consider other options that incentivize workers who pursue healthy behaviors, not punish workers who don’t.
U-Haul’s new ban
This isn’t a new idea. Several employers—particularly hospitals and other healthcare businesses—have set no-nicotine hiring policies for years.
Most recently, starting Feb. 1, the U-Haul corporation will no longer hire nicotine users in the 21 states where it is legal to create such bans. Applicants at U-Haul will now be told of the policy and, in states where testing is allowed, candidates must consent to submit to future nicotine screenings to be considered for a job.