Sunday, February 13, 2011

Smokers need not apply

Last Thursday, the New York Times published an article which questioned the practice of refusing to hire smokers, even when they engaged in their habit off the job. The article, “Hospitals Shift Smoking Bans to Smoker Ban” by AG Sulzburger, points out that many employers, especially those in the medical profession, are adopting policies which exclude smokers from employment.

But the “No Smokers Need Apply” policies are not restricted to new hires. In some instances, employers are demanding that smokers quit their habit or face the prospect of unemployment. In some cases, employers are demanding urine tests, intended to detect traces of nicotine, a perfectly legal substance, from those seeking employment and, in some cases, from those who may already be employed who want to keep their job.

These employers, which include the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and a growing number of hospital and health care facilities, believe they have a right to dictate what activities employees may indulge in their free time.

The anti-smoker zealots justify these gross intrusions into the personal lives of potential employees (and existing employees) by pointing out the need to “increase worker productivity, reduce health care costs and encourage healthier living.”

The Times article insinuates that the shift from smoke-free workplaces to smoker free workplaces is a new phenomena. “The policies reflect a frustration that softer efforts — like banning smoking on company grounds, offering cessation programs and increasing health care premiums for smokers — have not been powerful-enough incentives to quit.”

But, in fact, the uncompromising vindictiveness of the zealots has been characteristic of the euphemistically named “tobacco control” movement from the very beginning. They have carefully crafted a propaganda campaign which portrays smokers as social misfits - addicts, aggressively spreading their contagion to a non-smoking population and jeopardizing the lives of children.

And, despite the fact that their war on smokers is built on a foundation of lies and scientific deception, their message of bigotry and intolerance seems to have taken root. The discriminatory tactics used to harass a significant smoking community (20% to 25% of the adult population), now appear acceptable in the larger community of non-smokers, judging from some of the comments to the Times article.

For example, “I'd LOSE IT if I found out that a smoker came anywhere near my newborn. I don't care if he or she washed hands. I don't even care if he or she was wearing a coat and then removed it. I don't want third-hand smoke near my infant's lungs. I'd love to give birth at a hospital with a no-smokers-employed-here policy.”

Only someone suffering from some kind of anxiety disorder could write such drivel? An irrational fear of third hand smoke, no less.

Another comment notes: “As a physician, I have concluded that many people who continue to smoke – or start smoking – in spite of ostensibly knowing the risk, do so because they don’t have a tangible deterrent that is significant enough to motivate them otherwise. These new policies are significant – I hope they work!”

Yes. That's all smokers need, a deterrent to force them to quit. But, how far are these anti-smoker fanatics willing to go?

If the smoking bans don't work, if depriving smokers of a place to live is not sufficient deterrent, if refusing to provide medical coverage to those who continue to engage in that sinful habit doesn't force them to quit, if usurious levels of tobacco taxation haven't eliminated smoking, then what additional deterrents would be considered acceptable? Anti-smoker goon squads assaulting smokers? Compulsory electroshock therapy? Re-education camps?

Comments agreeing with the “No Smoker” policy ignore, or dismiss outright, the slippery slope argument, claiming that smoking is not like any other lifestyle choice .Secondhand smoke, they claim, represents a health hazard to those exposed. Other lifestyle choices, like obesity, do not.

But, what they fail to grasp, is that these policies are not being implemented to protect the health of other employees. The stated intent is to cut health care costs and increase productivity; to generate additional profit for employers. The "healthier living" angle is just a smokescreen to justify the unwarranted discrimination against smokers.

And, if employers can save money by refusing to hire smokers, they can almost certainly save money by refusing to hire the overweight and obese, social drinkers and alcoholics alike, those engaging in unconventional sexual behaviour, and a host of other activities.

Roughly two years ago, the Cleveland Clinic stopped hiring smokers. Clinic CEO, Dr. Delos Cosgrove told the New York Times that if he could he would choose not to hire obese people. Responding to criticism over his remark, Cosgrove said obesity represents a major social, economic and medical problem that should be given the same priority as efforts to curb tobacco use.

No smoker policies are being promoted by anti-smoker zealots. That this insane experiment in social engineering is being led by health care professionals is nothing short of disgusting.

But, smokers are merely the first target group. And anyone who believes otherwise should take their head out of their ass and give it a shake.

1 comment:

JJ said...

It's this sort of crap that makes me see red. I have always believed that until we can somehow start fighting back through the courts, that nothing will change. It will only get worse.

It you were to discriminate against any other section of society in this way, you would have riots in the streets.

Isn't it about time that tobacco companies funded a few court cases, where it would be incumbent apon zealots to produce evidence that for instance, SHS has ever killed anyone? Make these bastards show post-mortem evidence. Since it doesn't exist, then that is something I would like to see.

We have to put them on the back foot, and only high profile court cases would effectively do this.

Tobacco companies have the money. A concerted effort needs to be made to approach them.