A US city is to stop hiring vapers and smokers. The city hopes the move will encourage a healthy workplace and reduce medical costs.

Applicants to Dayton, Ohio public sector jobs will be tested for nicotine and tobacco during pre-employment screenings. This will apply where the city has received ‘reliable’ information that the applicant uses tobacco or nicotine.

Current employees hired after July 15 are required to be nicotine and tobacco-free.

Kenneth Couch, Dayton’s director of human resources, said:

“Studies indicate that employees that smoke cost approximately an additional $6,000 per year in direct medical costs and lost productivity”

 

Policy will hit public sector recruitment

An earlier survey of police and fire recruits suggested that both departments would lose around a quarter of their classes if the policy was implemented.

However, Rick Oakley, president of the Dayton Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 44, said:

“We are not thrilled about it, but we also understand where the city is coming from because the biggest part of their health care costs are from nicotine-related illnesses”

Oakley made no reference to vaping in his comments about the policy. However, he said that he believes that around a quarter of employees used tobacco and that he fears a ‘slippery slope’.

Both tobacco and nicotine are legal and do not affect employee performance, Oakley said.

Lifestyle policing

This concern was shared by Ann Sulfridge, president of union AFSCME Local 101. She argued that it was not up to employees to criticise employee’s lawful lifestyle decisions.

Sulfridge drew parallels to obesity which, while a genuine health concern, would not justify employers to measure the Body Mass Index of prospective employees.

Absenteeism related to obesity costs employers an estimated $4.3bn a year. Lower productivity costs $506 per employee with obesity each year.

Source: Dayton Daily News

Header Image by Arron Choi on Unsplash

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