Delray Beach, Fla., Bans Hiring Smokers

Delray Beach no smoking job applicants

First, they were kicked out of airplanes, then hospitals, and restaurants, and bars. Offices sent them out onto the streets, and some companies even refused to hire them at all. And as of Tuesday, the City Commission of Delray Beach, Fla., made it official, reports the South Florida Sun Sentinel: Smokers need not apply.

Nineteen percent of American adults smoked in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And since smoking definitely, absolutely, undeniably damages your health, those adults, on average, are more expensive to employ.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every smoker costs his or her employer an average of $3,400 a year. The Delray Beach City Commission said the ban was a thrifty move in tight budget times, and would also promote employee health.

More: Do Smokers Really Take More Breaks At Work?

A few companies began refusing to hire smokers decades ago, reports USA Today. The tobacco industry and the American Civil Liberties Union declared it "lifestyle discrimination," and pushed 30 states and the District of Columbia to pass smoker-protection laws. But in Florida, the state Supreme Court in 1995 upheld an employer's right not to hire smokers.

Hollywood, Fla., has had a ban on the books since 2005, requiring job applicants to sign an affidavit saying that they haven't used tobacco in the last year. Another town there, Atlantic Beach, followed soon after, and Sarasota County hopped on the bandwagon in 2008, demanding new hires taking a drug test that detects nicotine. But outside of the Sunshine State, few public employers have dared touch the issue. Fort Worth, Texas, debated a ban on hiring smokers earlier this year, but city officials snuffed the plan before it reached the City Council.

Opponents say these bans unfairly infringe on the freedom of the individual. Even anti-smoking organizations, such as the American Legacy Foundation, have come out against these bans, saying they disproportionately target low-wage and less-educated Americans from particular minority groups. (Forty-five percent of Americans with a GED smoke, compared to 6 percent of those with a postgraduate degree, according to the CDC.)

Smokers usually start when they are young and under the influence of advertising, according to Dave Dobbins, the chief operating officer of the American Legacy Foundation. They're "hooked on an addictive drug," he says, "and now they can't get a job either."

One Delray Beach commissioner actually voted against the ban because she was concerned that it would unfairly affect minority groups and prevent qualified applicants from getting the job, according to Janice Rustin, assistant to the Delray Beach city attorney. But although they took stock of these issues, the four other members on the commission voted for it, she says.

"When we balanced those factors against the increase in health care costs in today's climate," Rustin explained, "we weighted more heavily on the health care costs."

Employers across the country have found other ways to ease the burden of the nicotine-addicted. As of last year, 19 percent of 248 major U.S. employers made their workers who smoked, were overweight, or had high cholesterol pay more toward their health care costs, reported The New York Times. Delray Beach already made its smoking employees pay a surcharge on their medical insurance premiums. And Walmart, the country's largest employer, recently introduced a $2,000 annual penalty for some smokers.

More: Are Jobs For Tobacco Users Going Up In Smoke?

A company can make workers pay up to 20 percent of their insurance costs if they don't meet certain standards. But in 2014, the federal health care law will jack that up to 50 percent. As it stands, however, most employers offer carrots instead of smoker-bashing sticks, such as giving employees discounts if they take part in wellness programs. Delray Beach employees who currently smoke aren't going to be suddenly fired, reports the Sun Sentinel, but they can enjoy free prescription medication and classes to help them quit.

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I am a non-smoker and find the habit disgusting and intrusive. However, that being said, people certainly have the right to smoke if they wish, the health argument does not "hold water". Do they also ban hiring of people who may have a beer, glass of wine or drink because they may become alcoholics and cause additional medical expenses. Do they also ban hiring of individuals who exceed a certain arbatrary weight limit, because obese people may become a drain on the medical expenses. Where does it stop. Does, everybody have to be a "blond and blue eyed" non smoker, non drinker to be accepted? Think about it.

February 07 2013 at 12:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think it is wrong to do because the cigarettes are available for purchase, everywhere. It's not as if they are illegal or anything. They should be allowed to be hired in and then given the tools to quit. Just a "ban" from hire because people smoke is just wrong.

February 07 2013 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Coming from a 39 year smoker her just quit 3 months ago, this is a bunch of BS. I have always held down
a job for many years and when you couldn't smoke at work restraunts bars whatever it was no big deal, but
to watch everything under the sum be blamed on smoking is absolutely rediculous. I quit because I had a lung collapse for a reason that they don't know what causes it and yes non-smokers can have the same problem.Go back in history and you'll find out that cigarettes weren't even in the US until after WW1, we had cancer TB Heart disease way before that in this country, qiut blaming everything on smoking, it'snothing but a drop bucket for the medical profession and the insurance companies to raise rates and put blame on medical conditions that they can't explain.

October 04 2012 at 3:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wait, wait, fat is the new cigarette. Call it the Butter Tax; Bacon Tax, Fat Tax and if you are overweight, don't bother to apply. You know how uppity you got when someone smoked? Remember how you sneered and jeered smokers? Well, now it will be you and your fat butt that others are going to discriminate against. Happy for turning against your fellow Americans, because you won't be happy for much longer because now they are coming after you, chubby.

October 04 2012 at 1:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Melanie's comment

As a fat guy, I have to ask, what the hell are you talking about? Since when do fat people and smokers war?

October 04 2012 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I smoke. I can totally understand the banning of smoking in restraunts, work places, etc... But I have an issue with someone telling me what I can do in my own home while not at work. . . People who don't smoke find this great... But just wait until you do something the government doesn't agree with and see how you feel when they tell you can't continue even in your own home. Just the beginning of things to come I am afraid...

October 04 2012 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How about you hire smokers as long as they don't take any extra breaks and never smell like cigarettes.

October 04 2012 at 11:01 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kate's comment

hey!!! Why stop there. FIRE people who break for a phone call. FIRE them if they smell like they need a shower!!

October 04 2012 at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Don't hire smokers, but by all means, hire illegal immigrants. Hmmmmm......

October 04 2012 at 8:06 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Ok then, as a smoker, I would be unempoyable. Do I get to kick back and collect disability and/or welfare? Isn't the unemployment rate bad enough? And fair is fair - then I suggest hiring only those within a certain "accepted" weight range, who excercise regularly and eat right. Not to mention those who drink! How about those who have pre-existing health conditions or disabilities - better start screening them too. Lord knows insurance companies don't want to cover them! Granted some people have no tolerance, but accommodations have been made above and beyond to address their concerns - no smoking in the workplace, restaurants, etc., but enough is enough. Hope you critics are ready if this discrimination continues - better check your health and may be next. C'mon people - live and let live! Go help the poor or volunteer and put your time into something more worthwhile than antagonizing others. Just don't associate with smokers - fine by me!

October 04 2012 at 12:14 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sl2sis's comment

Agree, sl2. This is also AOL's way of antagonizing and dividing others, especially ever since they lost their AOL Hometown thing and that babbling 'social network' monstrocity they tried to pull off and failed.

October 04 2012 at 5:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who do you pruist think built America.......pipe, cigar and cig smokers drinkers thats who. It is just plain stupid to not hire smokers. They work harder than the complainers any day. The government got everyone down on smokers to beable to collect more taxes and insurance companies to charge more, and you all fell for it.

October 03 2012 at 10:07 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

It's not just smoking that is banned, it's all ncotine. no lozenes, patches or e cigaretts that I have a problem with

October 03 2012 at 9:29 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

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