Sarasota county, Florida (where my grandparents spend their winters) put in place a new policy Monday, where a ban on hiring smokers will be implemented to save money on employee health insurance costs.
The policy makes Sarasota County the first county in South Western Florida to make smoking a hiring issue. Charlotte and Manatee counties do not, though Manatee has policies designed to discourage employees from smoking.
Sarasota County Administrator Jim Ley said the hiring ban came out of of “a five-or six year strategy to produce a healthier work force and manage our long-term health care costs.”
The county currently pays about $31 million annually in health benefits for 3,600 employers, or $8,600 per worker.
According to the policy, potential employees will undergo a drug test style test and must sign a pledge stating that they have not smoked in the past 12 months
MY TAKE: Anti-smoking laws have been on balance a good thing. Second hand smoke in a closed public setting is just as much of a health hazard to non-smokers as it is to those who willingly and directly smoke. But this seems to go a bit far. This policy dictates that county employees can’t smoke, even in the privacy of their own homes.
There is a feasible and persuasive argument to be made for such a law. Health care costs are rising, and with workers participating in such unhealthy habits as smoking health insurance costs and the likelihood of health difficulties increases. However in this age when privacy appears to be so casually discarded, a law like this could set a bad precedent. Smokers, despite their obnoxious habit shouldn’t be treated like leapers and discriminated against. Doing that makes the non-smoker even more obnoxious then the smoker.
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