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Employers Changing New-Hire Criteria

New Hire Paperwork

In an article we recently published titled Employee Health On and Off the Job, we looked at how excessive alcohol consumption can create a number of health-related risks and cost Americans billions of dollars each year.

In that article, we concluded that employers do not have much control over whether their employees consume alcohol off the job, and that avoiding excessive alcohol consumption is in the hands of the employee. But what if there was a way that employers could ensure they are not hiring someone with other unhealthy habits that can eventually lead to poor health and expensive healthcare bills?

Since 1997, the state of Massachusetts has banned the hiring of police officers or firefighters that smoked tobacco. It would be simple enough to understand the process behind such an approach coming from the public sector in a sound economic climate; putting processes in place to avoid costly risk in the future is not exactly a freshly developed strategy. But since we are at a point where cost-cutting is at its highest, employers are looking to eliminate unnecessary risk that could have them footing heavy bills down the road.

As I mentioned earlier, this initiative was put in place in the late 90’s, which would make this article a bit outdated. Interestingly enough, however, we are starting to see this trend transfer over towards the private sector now with hospitals and even private corporations beginning to adopt a ban on employees who use tobacco.

But while we’re at it, let’s take a look at some of the different motives that an organization would have for adopting this kind of policy for new-hires:


Things don’t get very complicated here at all. Because police and fire departments are not profitable, they count on a pretty steady budget to operate and have less room for unexpected expenses, such as setting massive reserves for future workers’ compensation cases. So setting a guideline that removes the possibility of future employees developing illnesses and diseases due to using tobacco products makes perfect sense.

Company Culture

With over 4,000 chemicals and 43 known carcinogenic compounds present in each cigarette, smoking carries a pretty nasty connotation with it. And let’s face it, the appearance of a company’s workforce can have a big influence on how consumers define their experience with that company. So it makes perfect sense that companies are beginning to enact “non-smoking employees only” policies. There are “smokers’ rights laws” that are in effect in approximately 30 states throughout the country (the details vary from state to state), but they are easily evaded and carry many loopholes for employers.

Overall Employee Health

Finally, the more generic and common-sense reason for only hiring non-smoking employees is: it enforces good overall health! Besides saving money, and besides an attempt at company culture or branding, non-smoking employees are at less risk for illnesses and diseases than smokers. Employers can be certain their employees are not engaging in the most deadly habit there is, and for employers that are primarily concerned with the health of their employees, peace of mind can be a big deal.

It would be difficult to identify a company or organization that could not gain value in maintaining the values of any (or all) of the three topics listed above. Chances are that saving money, developing a positive company culture that the public can identify with, and adequate overall health of employees are all values that every organization in the world could benefit from embracing.

How does your organization value the three topics listed above? Does your company, or any others that you’ve heard of, filter new-hire prospects by non-smokers only? Let us know in the comment box below.

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