Forth Worth, TX – In Fort Worth, Texas the City Council is debating a measure that would ban the city from hiring any worker who is a smoker. The council is stressing that the reason is that health care costs for smokers is dramatically higher than non smokers and the city doesn’t have to funds to devote to smoker healthcare.
The Council acknowledges that certain specifics would have to be worked out such as what would happen to employees who already smoke, what would happen if someone starts smoking after hire and other considerations. The final proposal on the ban is to be sent to the mayor’s office by May 7.
If the resolution were to pass Fort Worth would be the first United States City to ban hiring smokers. Several private employers , including Baylor Health Care System have already banned hiring smokers. They ask all applicants to take a urine test and if they come up positive for nicotine they will not be allowed to be hired.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price said,
“Certainly we put taxpayer dollars into health care for our employees, and anything that might benefit the health — to make our employees more protective and healthy — we’re going to take a look at,”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, a smoker costs an employer about $3,400 more than a nonsmoker in annual health care costs. That number is produced by higher insurance premiums, reduced productivity and absenteeism from the office.
Supporters of the law say that they are saving lives in the process. After Olmsted, Minn., home to the Mayo Clinic, instituted a countywide workplace smoking ban in 2007, the incidence of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths was cut in half, according to a report by the MinnPost.
Smokers in the nation feel that the laws unfairly target them. There are plenty of unhealthy life choices that people engage in and no one is denying them work because of it. What is next fat workers need not apply?
Vince Chasteen, president of the city’s employee association, told WFAA, a local TV station.
“I feel like the next thing they want to do is take DNA samples to figure out if anybody is going to have any kind of diseases going forward,”