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Fort Worth, Texas Considers Ban on Hiring Smokers

April 18, 2012 by Brett Wilkins in Health & Medicine with 0 Comments

In what is believed to be the first move of its kind by a major US city, Fort Worth, Texas is considering a ban on hiring city employees who smoke cigarettes.

WFAA reports that health care costs are the main driving force behind the proposed ban.

“Certainly we put tax-payer dollars into health care for our employees, and anything that might benefit the health to make our employees more protective and healthy, we’re going to take a look at,” Mayor Betsy Price, who has worked hard to make Ft. Worth a healthier city, told WFAA.

But some city employees see the proposed hiring ban as an attack on liberty.

“I think it’s an infringement on the public’s rights to live their life the way they choose to,” Vince Chasteen, president of the city’s employee association, told WFAA.

“I feel like the next thing they want to do is take DNA samples to figure out if anybody is going to have any kind of diseases going forward,” he added.

Employment attorneys say the city could go ahead with the ban without running afoul of the law, since smokers are not protected by civil rights laws.

Many private businesses have enacted hiring bans on smokers. One of them is Baylor Healthcare, which stopped hiring smokers on January 1. Company president Steve Newton claims that for every dollar spent on wellness, such as smoking cessation programs, the company saves $2.44.

“It certainly helps to promote health in our communities,” Newton told WFAA. “It also helps in the bottom line. We spend less money on our health care, and we end up with a healthier work force.”

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