The city of Dayton, Ohio will no longer hire vapers or smokers, using statistics on productivity and medical costs to justify the move. Vaping advocates are concerned that such laws could spread.
“Studies indicate that employees that smoke cost approximately an additional $6,000 per year in direct medical costs and lost productivity,” said Dayton human resources director Kenneth Couch.
Other cities, and many private companies, have had policies for decades against hiring people who smoke. In fact, the practice caused such controversy in the 1980’s and 90’s that many states passed laws outlawing discrimination against smokers (or against people engaging in any lawful activity). Currently, 29 states have such laws—but Ohio is not one of them.
The problem is that use of nicotine in non-combustible forms like vaping or smokeless tobacco doesn’t have the same health burdens as smoking. The city is lumping all nicotine users together, and claiming that vapers will cause the same lost productivity and medical costs as smokers.
The rules in Dayton apply only to employees hired after July 15. Job candidates will be tested for nicotine before hiring. Once employed, they can be retested if the city has “reliable” information that they have used nicotine.
Union leaders representing city workers are worried that the law may be a slippery slope leading to rules against other “lifestyle choices.” Yet at least one of them is sympathetic toward (and misinformed about) the city’s position.
“We are not thrilled about it, but we also understand where the city is coming from because the biggest part of their health care costs are from nicotine-related illnesses,” Rick Oakley, president of the union representing Dayton police officers. There is no category of diseases called “nicotine-related illnesses.” Oakley means smoking-related illnesses.
But other behaviors affect insurance costs too. Why should I, as an employee, share the costs of other employees who choose to have children, or overeat, or ride motorcycles, or go mountain climbing? The risks of vaping are relatively low, and haven’t even been quantified. Why should vapers suffer employment discrimination for posing costs that can’t even be defined?
Aside from discriminating against vapers, hiring bans like the one in Dayton punish disadvantaged groups that smoke at disproportionately high rates, and already have a difficult time finding jobs. In a 2013 New England Journal of Medicine editorial, a group of medical ethicists and behavioral economists made the case for hiring people who smoke:
“More than 36% of Americans living below the federal poverty line are smokers, as compared with 22.5% of those with incomes above that level,” wrote the academics. “Crucially, policies against hiring smokers result in a ‘double whammy’ for many unemployed people, among whom smoking rates are nearly 45% (as compared with 28% among Americans with full-time employment). These policies therefore disproportionately and unfairly affect groups that are already burdened by high unemployment rates, poor job prospects, and job insecurity.”
Yes they’ll probably start DNA testing to make sure there is no higher risk for some obscure diseases.
My son had a chance for a great forensics position with the West Palm Beach FL sheriff department. It was a PERFECT fit. As soon as they found out that he had worked at an eLiquid company (and quit), his application was trashed. He only worked there while he was still looking for a position that was related to his degree. Better to be working than unemployed????? I emphasize – worked, not used. Their excuse … “our policy prohibits anyone who has had anything to do with tobacco.” Wonder if they go back and fire officers who started smoking after… Read more »
I guess vegans will end up being tested positive for nic since most veggies do have small traces of nic. Show’s how much people know nothing about nic.
I imagine you’re being sarcastic, but for people who don’t realize, there isn’t enough nicotine in vegetables to register on a test.
True, but let’s not forget that just a small dose of poppy seeds on a bagel can trigger a positive test for opiates. Happened to me before. Just makes me wonder if it will be very difficult for someone to have a negative result from nic.
What happens if you vape and you win an election to be the mayor?You then work for the city and the people got you the job they cant tell you to stop or be fired
Oh this sucks. We just moved to Dayton because of my husbands job transfer. He’s working but I’m not back to work just yet. Hopefully I can still find a job because I vape ?. Is it certain fields that are doing this or is this wide spread? Ugh every time people try to do better they try to make it worse.
My son got hired on at a hospital that test for nicotine and he vapes, and he passed the test. It’s all a bunch of BS.
It’s possible for a vaper to not test positive, depending on the nicotine level they use and the frequency of their vaping. It’s not something that can be counted on though.
This story is about the city of Dayton itself, not other employers in the city. But as it explains, all employers in the state of Ohio and 20 other states are also able to refuse to hire nicotine users if they decide to.
They should perhaps stop employing people who drink because they call in sick and come in to work hungover. There goes the entire state of Ohio unemployed…