We are troubled that the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania is considering a policy of refusing to hire smokers.
This proposal is a clear example of lifestyle discrimination — unfair treatment of a group of people based on perfectly legal and acceptable behaviors. Tobacco is not an illicit substance and should not be treated as such.
Smoking is already banned in HUP facilities. That should be enough. Prohibiting prospective employees from smoking on their own time and in their own homes is an unjust intrusion.
HUP’s justification for the policy — to promote “a safe and healthy environment” — is tenuous at best.
If HUP — like other hospitals and corporations that have enacted such a policy — is actually looking to decrease costs associated with health care and lost productivity that smokers incur, then smoking is being unfairly singled out. There are plenty of other unhealthy practices and risky lifestyle decisions that have similar effects. Will HUP also refuse to hire individuals who consume excessive amounts of junk food and alcohol?
HUP already has a no-smoking policy. It should not adopt a no-smokers policy.