USA Today summarizes how some companies are firing or refusing to hire workers who smoke while away from work. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Chronicle reports on a study that shows that companies who provide health insurance on average pay smokers less than non-smokers, but no such differential is seen at companies that don't provide such insurance.
Obviously, smoking is an unhealthy habit that increases risk of a number of serious disease. As a physician, I am always encouraging patients not to smoke, or to quit cigarettes. But many patients find it very hard to quit, mainly because the nicotine in cigarettes is highly addicted.
Although I continue to urge such patients to quit, and try to find ways to help them do so, I personally don't think that they deserve to be blamed or shamed.
However, the two stories above seem to illustrate, as I've said before, how companies that pay for their employees' health insurance (presumably with money that would otherwise go the employees as salary) seem to see this transfer of funds a license to control their employees' private behavior. This heavy-handed approach seems like more of an abuse of power to me than a valid approach to public health. As a physician, it's hard enough to try to get patients to quit smoking. For such a patient, losing their job because of the habit adds more than insult to injury.
“Despite the controversy caused by the protestor’s appearance, his presence did seem to attract a larger crowd, and [one of the organizers] said that his arrival was a good thing. ‘I was going to let him stay as long as he wanted to, because once white people see how [a racist] acts, they can just reflect on that and see, ‘Oh, I’m not like that. Oh, I actually might want to help.’ And they might want to push against what his thoughts and what his beliefs are.” - A racist clown rolls through a small Black Lives Matter rally at East Tennessee State University, and because of the inherent drama of a person with a Conf...