Reason Writers Around Town: Jacob Sullum on Employers Who Refuse to Hire Smokers

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The newly conspicuous practice of refusing to hire smokers has aroused objections not only from tobacco companies but also from civil libertarians and even some anti-smoking activists. At AOL News, Pam Parker, co-founder of Opponents of Ohio Bans, argues that employers should not be allowed to discriminate against smokers. Senior Editor Jacob Sullum disagrees, arguing the real threat to privacy and autonomy comes from the paternalistic tendencies of a government bent on making us as healthy as we can be, without regard to our own preferences.

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  1. I can’t see why “civil libertarians” would dispute an employer’s right to not hire smokers. Not much of a libertarian outlook.

    1. why “civil libertarians” would dispute an employer’s right

      We don’t dispute it. Nothing to see here. Everybody go home now.

      1. If I owned a business, I wouldn’t refuse to hire smokers.

  2. Smokers, fatties and collectivists (liberals and conservatives) — why hire any of these worthless humans?

  3. what people do on their own time is their business- employers should have the right not to have smoking but not smokers

    1. Re: Rather,

      what people do on their own time is their business- employers should have the right not to have smoking but not smokers[.]

      Employers have the right to hire whoever they want, Rather: Smokers, non smokers, gays, libs, conservatives, pretty women, ugly women, NO women, blacks, reds, greens, whites, Mexicans… whoever they want.

      And that’s because:

      IT’S THEIR FUCKING MONEY! Not YOURS, not MINE, not the “civil libertarians”, but THEIRS.

      Also, NOBODY IS ENTITLED TO A JOB! Neither you or me or anybody else.

      1. Payment of an individual by a company influences interstate commerce. Deal with it.

      2. In your libertarian world that may be the case but not in this one.

        1. Rather|2.11.11 @ 8:22PM|#
          “In your libertarian world that may be the case but not in this one.”

          Translation:
          “We’ve got the guns; tough shit.”
          Thanks for supporting your local despot.

        2. No employer should be able to discriminate against cunt-picklers! We cunt-picklers are a proud people!

      3. And THAT’S exactly why smoking bans should be banned! It’s an OWNERS choice to whom they cater to, not the governments!

  4. I smoke, therefore…um…

  5. As long as employers can’t decline to employ dope smokers. Right, Prop 19 supporters? (That’s right; I can be snotty, too.)

  6. arguing the real threat to privacy and autonomy comes from the paternalistic tendencies of a government bent on making us as healthy as we can be, without regard to our own preferences.

    I’m glad you said it, because you sure as hell knew I was.

    Standard bullshit about paying pipers and calling tunes always applies.

  7. At AOL News, Pam Parker, co-founder of Opponents of Ohio Bans, argues that employers should not be allowed to discriminate against smokers.

    Lefty schizophrenia:

    a) Smokin’ is bad – ban smokes!!!!
    b) Smokin’ is bad in public places – ban smokers!!!!
    c) Smokin’ is bad in PRIVATE places – ban smokers!!!!
    d) Not hiring smokers is bad – ban discrimination of smokers!!!!

    Uh… wha…???

    1. a) Smokin’ is bad – ban smokes!!!!

      I haven’t noticed a prohibition on tobacco.

      b) Smokin’ is bad in public places – ban smokers!!!!

      I haven’t noticed any bans that prohibit smokers in public places…just smoking. The verb, the activity, not the person.

      c) Smokin’ is bad in PRIVATE places – ban smokers!!!!

      See above…bans on the activity are not bans on the people. Also, depends upon what you mean by private, but most bans are for places that are public (even if privately owned).

      d) Not hiring smokers is bad – ban discrimination of smokers!!!!

      Consistent with the idea that the bans are narrow. They prohibt a specific behavior due to its impact on others…rather than creating a class of individuals called “smokers” who can be discriminated against.

      1. That’s just a response to your poor logic. Not a statement of my positions on the issue.

  8. AOL buys Huffington Post and Reason is all over driving traffic there way. Classy!

  9. I smoke, and if someone, or some company doesn’t want to hire me because I smoke, then fuck them. I’ll go down the street to another employer who needs workers. This wouldn’t be a “problem” if there was sufficient competition in the market.

  10. Good luck finding a job when we will penalize employers that hire smokers. We’ll kick your ass.

    1. Barry the Health President|2.11.11 @ 8:40PM|#
      “Good luck finding a job when we will penalize employers that hire smokers. We’ll kick your ass.”

      I’m not gonna go digging through the references just now, but toward the end of the USSR, something like 10% of the farmland (that which was privately farmed, only sort of legal by then) produced something over 50% of the food.
      Barry, up yours. You don’t have a chance. There’s way more people who want to make money than there are laws on the books or those to enforce them.

  11. There’s no right to a job, only a right for employers to act stupidly.

  12. This is largely – although not exclusively – the consequence of the income tax incentives for employers to provide health insurance. Just another unintended consequence that’s biting statists in the ass. Ho-hum.

    1. If we’re lucky unintended consequences bite statists in the ass. Usually, these (un)intended consequences bite everyone else in the ass, and give statists more reason to intervene.

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  14. I agree that employer provided healthcare insurance is a factor. I think another consideration for employers is lost productivity. I’ve had jobs where at any given time there would be 5 or 6 workers sitting around the picnic table outside having a smoke break. Even though they were supposed to clock out for breaks, most of them would “forget” to for smoke breaks. Every time 6 employees take a 10 minute smoke break, the company loses 1 hour of production time.

    I’m a smoker, but I don’t think that I should have any special protection just because I’m addicted to nicotine because I choose to smoke. Employers have every right to hire or not hire whoever they choose.

  15. This is a result of Obamacare… it makes smokers much more expensive statistically to employ.

  16. Restrictions on smokers using a legal product can be restricted? Since when are non-smokers a protected class on privately owned property? Yet twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have laws in effect elevating smokers to a protected class. Has that stopped the anti-smoking cartel from firing or not hiring smokers? No. Is the anti-smoking cartel even acknowledging that the U.S. Constitution offers protections for privately owned property? No. Do the sheeple that the anti-smoking cartel has hoodwinked care at all that they have begun acting like nazi’s? No. Can’t wait for the backlash? Yes!

  17. I may have to bring this subject up of smoker persecution with my son when I teach him about the many uses for tar and feathers.

  18. This has little to do with health care and a lot to do with the fact smokers work less than non-smokers because of all the breaks.

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