In the past recent years smoking has become the subject of discussion in our weekly headlines, with a lot of hubbub on how we can get smokers to quite smoking. Each and every state has particular laws that protect smokers against any form of discrimination. Evidently due to smoking, health related problems, the law doesnt protect the smokers completely just like the way it does to non-smokers. For instance smokers might be forced to pay more premiums for their companys health insurance, while most companies have banned cigarette/tobacco smoking at work places. Banning smoking in both the bars and the restaurants in the past period has created some preliminary backlash, by which the topic of concern cigarette smoking has now become a matter of fact in many city states. Following the refusal of many hospitals and company businesses to hire smokers, a new set of moral ethical issues has emerged.
While some of these government policies have been enacted and followed for several years, there is still a lot of debate on what is the best solution for the rise in the smoking problem, which approximately kills almost 440,000 people per year. The aim of this paper is to provide an argument on whether or not companies should refuse to hire smokers ethically. In the past season (spring) a company in Canada declared that it wouldnt hire any smoker. Quite a number of health organizations in the U.S have implemented a policy that testing of nicotine is part of job hiring processes. However, the question still remains is it legal to only hire non-smokers and refuse to hire smokers? Following a debate between two groups the ethicists- who argue in favor of the policy that bans smoking in the companies while the other group behavioral economists argue in favor of the smoking employees. The next part of this paper I am going to discuss the arguments.
The its for their own good Argument
The ethicists argue that even though the policies against hiring smoking employees may seem like a punishment/unjust in the first days bearing the knowledge that smokers are associated with lower levels of social-economic status, Banning smokers hiring will create stigma to the smokers while trying to survive in this society, but all this is okay since it will save their lives in the long run and also recalibrate their social norms. Even if the whole process might take a lot of time literary the effects wont be felt for long but its worth it since the whole society will shift from worse to better.
Secondly they argue that before the policies were created the companys would go to an extent of offering financial support/incentives to its smoking employees but only low rates turned out to quit. Lets take a look for example about 70% of smokers who dedicate themselves to quit smoking only 2%-3% actually become successful. Instead many companies opted for a better option of implementing policies that would include the companys refusal to hire smoking employees. With this policy they believed that it was a better way of communicating an important message to the youths and other people in the society. On the harms which resulted from smoking and they wouldnt have to spend thousands of dollars in the health units for smoking health problems. Following the different critiques against this claims which seems to be disingenuous and akin to the human resource directors. I believe that this policies are not for the good of the smoking employees but they are just for the good of the policies themselves.
The Unethical Argument
In this case the behavioral economists argue that even if banning smoking in companies is for the good of the smokers it brings about a lot of effects to the smokers which can be considered to be unethical. Companys refusal to hire smokers can result to the companys failure to care for the smokers which might lead to an additional burden to the already-disadvantaged residents in the society. The economists argue using the hospital as an example, of all places the hospital in the right senses cannot refuse to hire smokers since their work as doctors is to treat smokers or people whose moral ethical behaviors have often led to their health hazards. It may perhaps be paradoxical or absurd to implement policies that would go against its employees who do the same deals.
This might be self-contradictory if medical institutions which relentlessly devote itself to care for its patients despite the cause of their illness, in the same way they should treat smoking employees, they should not discriminate against their qualifications on the basis of their behavior which affects their health. Secondly since smoking involves an act of addiction a person cannot be discriminated against their behaviors which might be involuntary. So to deny smokers the right to have a job would not really be a good reason to stop smoking. In addition to deny smokers jobs will affect the countrys economy greatly since there will be a large percentage of people with low social status and economic status. Finally this group recommends that the best solution would be to hire smokers and support them in the best way possible to quit smoking than punishing the smokers by refusing to hire them.
Its not certainly clear which of the two sides has the strongest argument or the outcome of this argument but both sides make the cases valid.
Pros and Cons of this policy
This policy might be best for smoking employees who take sicker off days than the non-smokers this affects the company economy and financial status. Taking examples of if the companys large population is made up of smoking employees.
People may ask is the policy worth it? I would actually say yes because it would be away of sucking employers who quit smoking for a while and as soon as they pass the nicotine test they start smoking again.
Research also show that tobacco/cigarette free hiring policy might not be the best solution. Because if the decisions were made based on health related insurance costs, couldnt a similar case like that for weight- related problems be made and by which it wouldnt raise questions of discriminations.
Another disadvantage of this policy is that employers might be turning away that top employer sales person or manager because of a problem which could easily be solved. Employers should be asked questions like what about the rate of employers job searching declines and turns around and they find themselves scrambling for employees what would they do?
Pugsley, Mark W. "Nonsmoking hiring policies: Examining the status of smokers under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990." Duke Law Journal 43.5 (1994): 1089-1114.
Rothstein, Mark A. "Refusing to employ smokers: good public health or bad public policy." Notre Dame L. Rev. 62 (1986): 940.
Warner, Daniel M. "We do not hire smokers: May employers discriminate against smokers?." Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal 7.2 (1994): 129-140.
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