Tobacco

'I'm Only Going to Hire Smokers From Now On'

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I've long defended the right of business owners to allow smoking on their property. But I've also argued that business owners should be free not only to ban smoking on their property but to refrain from hiring smokers, or even to fire smokers (in the absence of a contract forbidding it), based on concerns about health insurance costs, or for whatever reason makes sense to them. "If an employer decides that hiring smokers (or fat people) is too expensive, that's his business," I wrote in a post a couple of years ago. "By the same token, companies should be free to hire only smokers, or only fat people." Here is a story for those who though the latter scenario was purely hypothetical:

The owner of a small German computer company has fired three non-smoking workers because they were threatening to disturb the peace after they requested a smoke-free environment. 

The manager of the 10-person IT company in Buesum, named Thomas J., told the Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper he had fired the trio because their non-smoking was causing disruptions.

Germany introduced non-smoking rules in pubs and restaurants on January 1, but Germans working in small offices are still allowed to smoke.

"I can't be bothered with trouble-makers," Thomas was quoted saying. "We're on the phone all the time and it's just easier to work while smoking. Everyone picks on smokers these days. It's time for revenge. I'm only going to hire smokers from now on."

Update: Reuters is now reporting that the owner of the company, Thomas Joschko, concocted the story about firing the nonsmokers. "He said it was a joke and worth the trouble," says Stephanie Lamprecht, the Hamburger Morgenpost reporter who wrote the original story and a follow-up revealing the hoax. "He said he's a chain-smoker himself and said he was tired of smokers being hassled so much."

[Thanks to TrickyVic for the tip.]

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  1. Nicht Rauchen Verboten!

  2. No doubt the irony will be lost on the many lefty-nanny staters on this forum:

    That company will most likely fail in the marketplace, due to it’s inability to acquire or retain smart, productive IT talent. There’s just a bigger labor pool to chose from in the non-smoking world.

  3. Betreiben Sie zum Raucher!

  4. There’s just a bigger labor pool to chose from in the non-smoking world.

    Perhaps, but catering to a niche can also guarantee happy and loyal workforce, once found. And from personal experience (therefore irrelevant, I guess) lots of computer programmers and other tech-related workers smoke like chimneys.

  5. The story is a hoax

    Schei?e!

  6. anon:

    I’ve been in the IT field for 8 years. Almost all of my coworkers have been alcoholics and about half are smokers. It comes with the job, because its high stress and sometimes the only place to find peace is out in the smoking area.

    There is no labor shortage of IT professionals that smoke, trust me on this.

  7. That company will most likely fail in the marketplace, due to it’s inability to acquire or retain smart, productive IT talent. There’s just a bigger labor pool to chose from in the non-smoking world.

    Perhaps you’re right in a general terms (that smokers-only businesses will fail over non-smoking ones); but I don’t see where you’re able to have the kind of knowledge the owner has.

  8. I do not smoke but found out that the company that I work for will not hire smokers any positions even if that position does not offer any healthcare benefits. This is just ridiculous.

  9. @bingo

    I would agree with this. IT professionals (and I am one of them) are not known to have the healthiest habits. But based strictly on anecdotal evidence I believe the accounting and HR staffs have a higher degree of alcoholism than IT – but not by much.

  10. I remember when I worked at an old lawfirm in New York. It was in some really pretty old offices in the GE building, 30 Rockefeller Plaza. And in defiance of the ban, they still allowed certain partners and associates to smoke in their offices. There were two wings in the firm, and one was the smoking wing. Those of us who didn’t mind the smell (and it was rather pleasant and unobtrusive – like an old study) or were smokers ourselves worked in that wing, and those that didn’t in the other. No one complained, and it was fine. When we took breaks we even were invited into partners’ offices to have a smoke and relax. It was the last remnant of civilized office life in the city, a throwback if you will to a bygone era. It was wonderful. And all illegal. I always loved the fact that they did this while totally disregarding the new regulations.

  11. a throwback if you will to a bygone era

    Did they also do the two-martini lunches?

    I don’t drink, but I would smoke at work if I had a chance.

  12. If only someone would decide to do this in regards to the war on cannabis smokers. There are many under-employed people who are very good at their chosen profession but enjoy cannabis.

    This is an untapped market of highly motivated people who will work for a little less, but give maximum effort, just to avoid the drug testing bullshit of most companies.

  13. This is an untapped market of highly motivated people who will work for a little less, but give maximum effort, just to avoid the drug testing bullshit of most companies.

    Yeah, it’s called the construction industry…

  14. Taktix;

    🙂

  15. If only someone would decide to do this in regards to the war on cannabis smokers. There are many under-employed people who are very good at their chosen profession but enjoy cannabis.

    Lots of companies don’t drug test. My current (a global IT behemoth) employer didn’t. I once applied for a job for a major LA based buy side financial firm that said, “Have you ever been arrested for any crime (not including possession of marijuana)?”

  16. The government just wants money. They want to regulate smoking to the point where they can get money from you buying the product, and then get money from fines. What a scam.

    I hearby announce the “No Profit From Sin Act of 2008”. That states that a government can not profit from an activity it deems sinful or believes is too dangerous for its citizenry.

  17. “”””Have you ever been arrested for any crime (not including possession of marijuana)?””””

    Only in CA. 😉

    Personally I think they should only be able to ask about convictions. The outcome of the arrest, not the arrest its self is closer to proof that you did something wrong.

  18. Why are non-smokers so uptight?

  19. I’ve been in the IT field for 8 years. Almost all of my coworkers have been alcoholics and about half are smokers.

    Don’t know if the exhibit is still around, but about 15 years or so ago I went to the computer museum in Boston. First shock was seeing one of the displays which was the same system my employer at the time was using. (Some old Data General thing, scared the shit out of me.) Then onto the mainframe exhibit where the operator’s console was this massive thing which was about the size of a semi trailer – fully equipped with the built-in lighter and ash tray.

  20. I remember when I worked at an old lawfirm in New York.

    I started practicing with a white shoe firm in Richmond Virginia. Every floor was a smoking floor, and after the help left at 5:00 we could break out the cigars and pipes if we felt the urge.

    Of course, one of our clients was RJ Reynolds, which may have something to do with it.

  21. “I hearby announce the “No Profit From Sin Act of 2008″. That states that a government can not profit from an activity it deems sinful or believes is too dangerous for its citizenry.”

    Paul / Trickyvic ’08!

  22. Russ 2000,

    But was there a minibar? And be-icecubed trays for cocktails?

    Ah, IBMs always have the best accessories. This almost beats the Type M keyboard.

  23. Are you still able to smoke in that mall on M Street in DC? I haven’t been back in a while?

  24. “””Why are non-smokers so uptight?”””

    I’m a non-smoker and I argue for smoking rights all the time. The problem is with people who think their rights are greater than yours.

    “”Paul / Trickyvic ’08!”””

    LOL, Yeah, like that would improve Paul’s chances.

    The funny thing the Huckster is a preacher and he has no problem with government profiting from sin taxes. None of the so called christians running have a problem with that tax. Someone should ask them why they are so willing to take the devil’s money. I would love to see the look on their faces.

  25. “…fully equipped with the built-in lighter and ash tray.”

    The ashtray is joining the ranks of the spitoon and the public drinking cup. Sorry to see it go.

    My stepfather had an awesome collection of ashtrays that he “liberated” from various establishments. There were motels, restaurants, tire companies, auto dealerships, beer companies, gas stations, moving companies and a lot of others. It covered a full bookshelf with 4 shelved. I wonder what happened to that collection and I miss the creative ashtrays I would see. I’ll bet it’s worth quite a bit.

  26. “Someone should ask them why they are so willing to take the devil’s money.”

    I ask the same thing about asset forfeiture. Shouldn’t all that money be incinerated along with the drugs?

  27. And the IRS taxing you for drugs they merely said you sold.

  28. The FOOL! Doesn’t he realize that by bypassing the employee who most maximizes his firm’s efficiency he will be unable to maximize his profit relative to his competitors, who, if they do hire said non-smoker, will gain an advantage and put him out of business. All discrimination and injsutice is THUSLY PUNISHED by:

    MAGICAL MYSTICAL MARKET MAN AND HIS FRIEDMANITE RING OF POWER!!!!

    That discriminating sucka is going down, any minute now….Yeah, it’s coming…Just wait…

  29. I have just found this, it says the story was a hoax.

    http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2008/01/hokey-smoke-ger.html
    Hokey smoke: German on ‘pro-smoker mission’ invented story of firings
    Last week On Deadline passed along reports that “Thomas J.,” a manager at a computer company, had fired three non-smoking Germans for demanding a smoke-free workplace. Today, the reporter who wrote the story says it turns out that Thomas J. had blown smoke in her face.
    “He said it was a joke and worth the trouble. He said he’s a chain-smoker himself and said he was tired of smokers being hassled so much,” Reuters quotes Stephanie Lamprecht of the Hamburger Morgenpost. “He said he was on a pro-smoker mission.”

  30. Gott sei Dank! Es lebe die Raucher!

  31. I remember over a decade ago, during the overabundance bloom of state AGs suing tobacco companies to cover health care costs of smokers, one tobacco company said “Ok, that’s what you want. You sue us because we sell in your state. Fine. We won’t sell in your state.”

    The AG, while conducting the lawsuit to punish them for selling in his state, promptly filed another for not selling in his state.

    I wish I could find the story, but it is pre-1996.

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