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The smoke-free workplace movement is supposed to be exactly that: a movement to try to rid workplaces of smoke in order to protect the health of all workers from the hazards of secondhand smoke exposure. Recently, however, a number of anti-smoking groups have begun promoting not just smoke-free workplaces, but smoker-free workplaces. In other words, they have begun to support policies by which employers fire existing smokers and/or refuse to hire anyone who smokes.

The following excerpt from a press release from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) shows that this prominent anti-smoking group is actually supporting and promoting employment discrimination against smokers: 


While Action on Smoking and Health, one of the most prominent groups in the tobacco control movement, is supporting these discriminatory employment policies, not a single other anti-smoking group in the U.S. has yet spoken out publicly against these policies. The silence of these groups provides, in essence, tacit approval of these discriminatory actions. It essentially means that the anti-smoking movement, as a whole, is supporting, or at least condoning, these policies.

This is quite unfortunate, as we in public health should not be in the practice of supporting employment discrimination. Do we really think that people should be denied jobs because of lawful, off-the-job behavior that does not directly impact job performance or qualifications?

If these policies continue to spread, it will eventually become difficult for smokers to find employment. Is this really what the smoke-free movement should be about?   


Here are examples of some of the employers which have adopted these policies and the reasons why this employment discrimination against smokers is not justified:

World Health Organization