February 09, 2005

Hump Day Opinions

While not breaking news by any means, I'd like your opinions and thoughts. I will, of course, wait to chime in until everyone's had a chance to speak their minds. Here's the story:

Michigan-based medical benefits administrator Weyco recently instituted a policy which bans smoking by employees, whether or not they're on the clock. According to the company, between 15 and 20 of the 200 employees have sought the company's assistance through the smoking-cessation programs it has offered. Four employees were unable or unwilling to quit and were fired on January 1. Weyco now reserves the right to randomly test all employees. Those who test positive for nicotine use will be fired. Weyco argues that smokers constitute a potential threat to the company's bottom line and unfairly raise the costs of healthcare for all employees. In Weyco's words, "any private Michigan business organization has the right to protect itself from the enormous financial damage that tobacco users inflict upon society by destroying their own health."

Here's what I want to know. Do you think Weyco is acting fairly or do their actions encroach on personal liberties? Why?

Additional information can be found at:
-Weyco's Web Site;
-The New York Times; and
-ABC News.

Posted by Chris at February 9, 2005 07:24 AM
Comments

Given that smokers raise the health care costs of everyone around them, I have to say fiscally, it makes sense. I'd think that refusing them health care would make MORE sense. But I think that's illegal, too.

I know we love liberty in America. But we also hate hurting others by choosing things that will hurt other people. And if you smoke, you have a much greater risk of cancer, which means you're hurting the company and everyone paying for health care.

Posted by: alektra at February 9, 2005 08:09 AM

Let me first say that I disagree with the policy. I don't want my bosses telling me what I can and can't do on my free time.

Second, what if a) you have a spouse or other person in the same house that smokes b) spend any amount of time in bars or restaurants with smoking permitted?
Wouldn't you still test positive for nicotine use and be unjustly fired?

Posted by: Veronica at February 9, 2005 08:17 AM

I'm not sure how I feel. I used to work with a girl who smoked, and I hated the way the office reeked when she came back from a break.

However, Nicoteen is a legal drug. But then so is alchol, and you can't show up to work with that in your system either...

hmmm.

Posted by: Autumn at February 9, 2005 08:28 AM

Up next fearless workers - banning you because you're fat. Mark my words.

Posted by: Lee at February 9, 2005 08:41 AM

I can understand the company not wanting their employees to smoke while at work, but they have no right to dictate what they do off the clock (as long as it isn't illegal). I understand smokers raise the cost of insurance for others, but what if the company jacks up the price of health care for smokers? Make them pay their own share of the cost. I think encouraging employees to quit smoking is one thing, but firing them for it is insane. Are they going to start firing overweight people because the cost to insure them is higher? Where will it end? Sorry for the rant, but this irks me to no end!

Posted by: Jennifer at February 9, 2005 08:43 AM

I think they can ban smoking during working hours, but afterward, have no say in personal matters. Being a non-smoker, I was one who used to resent the breaks that smokers would take to feed their habit.

Yet being a benefits administrator puts a little spin on it. They know the numbers and see that smokers have more health problems (in general).

Although, seeing that smoking is legal and is not an intoxicant, I can't see how they could legally fire people for refusing to quit. Even if it is company policy.

Wow. How was that for a non-committal, vague answer?

Posted by: Amy at February 9, 2005 08:43 AM

Eating excessive amounts of food leads to obesity, which is bad for your health. A sedentary lifestyle also leads to obesity.

Skydiving is an unnecessarily risky activity.

Not wearing your seatbelt increases your risk of dying in a car accident.

Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a variety of health problems.

Point is, many activities can cause health problems and can hurt a company's bottom line. I would argue that obesity is the most costly to a company, because it can cause joint pain, respiratory problems, etc. Those problems are much more common and, one could argue, would cost even more than the treatment of smoking-related illnesses.

Are you going to fire employees for being fat? I doubt it.

I don't think it's fair to pick and choose which health issues are grounds for termination. So leave the smokers alone.

Posted by: Mirella at February 9, 2005 08:46 AM

Federal laws don't prohibit them from discriminating against someone for smoking. Oddly enough, they cannot fire someone for being overweight (which also raises healthcare costs), but they can require them to be in a "treatment program".

As a private company they can have the policies they want, as long as they don't violate any laws.

Personally, heck yeah they encroach too much. I guess if smoked and I worked there, I would quit and find someplace a little less psychotic to work.

Where I work, if you are out at a bar with friends and make a rude sexual joke, and another employee is nearby hears it and is offended by it, you can be disciplined for sexual harassment.

Posted by: Jon in Michigan at February 9, 2005 08:57 AM

I can't agree with it, just like some other comments above, and mainly for the fact that there is no way that I feel comfortable having the door opened on the company I work for to govern how I live my life outside of the office. Ban smoking from anywhere near the office, and that's fine. I don't have a problem with that, and I am a smoker. I don't mind having to go outside at restaurants, that's their prerogative. It's their business, they can do what they will, just like the company. But once I go home, that's my personal place, and allowing this to go through without contesting it means that we've just opened a can of worms regarding what is and what isn't personal and private.
Ok, sorry for the rant... I've been meaning to comment on this on my own blog for a while now.

Posted by: amber at February 9, 2005 09:01 AM

i think at best it is an incredibly slippery slope (as others pointed out - leading to firing people for being fat or whatever). man, i can't even think this morning....

i resent the fact that more and more companies feel they can dictate our entire lives because we work for them 8 hours a day. i think that Americans (and i speak in sweeping generalizations here) have given too much of themselves in search of the almighty dollar. and therefore, companies have more power (in MY opinion) than they should.

i hope that i, personally, would be in a position to say "F You and all your rules" and walk out and work for a better/less dictating company. but that's not realistic for alot of people.

many companies fail to realize we work for them. and i think that we should at least own our part of the power.

this has turned long and rambling. to summate: i believe they have the right to make rules that work for best for them. but i also believe that if we want to maintain any liberty at all in this country in the coming years, we're going to have to be willing to stand up and fight for them - even if the personal cost is high (losing a job, losing a paycheck)

perhaps i made that more political than it should have been. :)

Posted by: zalary at February 9, 2005 09:03 AM

Wow, that would suck for me since i started smoking again [dammit i need have to quit again].

I am so totally going on that trip, there is no way in hell i can pass it up! all she wants me to pay for is the $500 change of person/name fee since i will be replacing her sister. A $500 two week trip to europe?? fucking insane & unheard of!!

I will most definitely post pics!

Posted by: angel at February 9, 2005 09:17 AM

As the great Pierre Elliot Trudeau (perhaps Canada's answer to JFK...but in an extremely libertarian-left-wing-kind-of-way:

THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO PLACE IN THE BEDROOMS OF CANADIANS....

and I think this statement is applicable to big business as well. Being for smoking, or against smoking, to me, is not the question, it's really a question of infringement on personal freedom. Do I smoke? NO. Does smoking bother me? YES Do I however think that a company and/or government should be able to discriminate (and/or pass legislation or policies) which driscriminate against someone who does smoke in their own private time? HELL NO!

In Canada, even randon drug testing is illegal in most cases except for certain circumstances. A slippery slope is really a very mild way of putting it. It's direct infringment that is unnaceptable, in my opinion, anyway!

There, I'm outted as being a complete leftist!

Posted by: wn at February 9, 2005 09:18 AM

I would qualify that my opinion is obviously based on a Canadian perspective!

Posted by: wn at February 9, 2005 09:19 AM

Dennis Leary's comment on this was "just try to catch me."

Posted by: erin at February 9, 2005 09:19 AM

It scares me.
The concept of healthcare costs is understandable, however, unfair. If a company can tell me I can't smoke at home, what is next? I can't eat a big juicy hambuger because high cholesterol runs in my family and will cause me to seek treatment through my doctor? How about sexual intercourse? Someone could end up with aids and what would that do to healthcare to seek treatment for that? I feel if they are allowed to do that, a door is going to open that is going to be very scarey for us as a "free" nation.

Posted by: Jade at February 9, 2005 09:21 AM

A big ol' batch of BS for all the reasons listed above. Hell no they shouldn't be able to do this. Smoking, eating, drinking, sex, driving even breathing has potential health risks. Don't tell people how to live their lives.

Posted by: Rickshaw Driver at February 9, 2005 09:33 AM

I can't believe that anyone would agree with this policy. Why the hell is everyone crying about freedom if they think a company has a right to hire you because you are a smoker? This really pisses me off. People don't really care about a "free" country. They want to be able to pick and choose their freedoms; It doesn't work that way.

If a company has a right to not hire (or fire) you because you are a smoker, then they also should be reserving the right to not hire or fire anyone who is overweight because that too is one of the leading causes of heart disease in the country making insurance rates sky rocket. But, no one has the guts to stand up against fat people for fear of hurting feelings. (just noticed Mirella said pretty much the same thing)

And I'm not a smoker, by the way.

Posted by: RockStar Mommy at February 9, 2005 09:43 AM

I agree with most all of the points listed in this comments section. I don't believe this has anything at all to do with smoking, it's only about how much control the company we work for can have over us. It's a sad sad day when we as Americans have to worry about what we do in the privacy of our own homes affecting our employment status. It's times like these that I think about giving it all up and going to live in the wilderness somewhere and just live off of the land.

Posted by: chroniccoder at February 9, 2005 09:46 AM

I'm feeling seriously anti-smoking lately since someone I care about was just diagnosed with lung cancer.

At the same time, I firmly believe that people should be free to go home and smoke on their own time if that is what they want to do. I can see Weyco saying you can't smoke on our time. But what you do when you leave work is your business. No corporation should have the right to determine what you do in your private life, whether it is smoking, what you eat, who you sleep with or what your politics are.

Posted by: bad penguin at February 9, 2005 10:09 AM

I'm a non-smoker but I still think that's unfair. Like others said, it does make sense because it saves the company and other non-smoking employees money on healthcare, but there are too many variables involved to make a clean cut decision like that.

I think it would be okay for them to prefer that employees don't smoke while on the clock. Not only does it keep the smokers from taking smoke breaks every 10 minutes (one thing I don't like - what about us non-smokers? Who says it's fair that they get to take so many frequent breaks and us healthy people have to sit there and keep working?) but it also keeps the office from smelling foul. I know several people who are allergic to cigarette smoke, seriously. But they technically have no right to tell someone they can't smoke ever.

And firing someone because they smoke? I'm sorry, that sounds illegal to me. Just like if you fire someone because of a medical condition - if the condition doesn't interfere with their work, it shouldn't be a problem and that person shouldn't be fired.
That hits close to home because my husband has been fired from 2 different jobs (he's a chef) because he has a genetic lung disease. It's in no way contageous and only 1 in one million people get it. (Both parents have to carry the gene recessively for the child to get the disease.) It's never hindered his ability to work, in fact, he's hardly ever called in sick, and he's worked with a fractured ankle. My hubby is not one to complain. But 2 seperate companies fired him because they found out about his lung condition and when questioned about it by unemployment, told a completely different story to make my husband look bad. We're considering legal action against both parties. It's a mess and the bottom line is it's totally unjust.

So do I think this policy is right? Hell no. I can understand if they ask employees to please not smoke while on the clock, but downright banning them both at work and during their personal time is a violation of civil liberties.

Posted by: Kitty at February 9, 2005 10:21 AM

Oh push those big buttons Mr. Cactus!

Like them hate them, that is not the point. The point is what is next? And what if they came after YOU personally for something that you do in the privacy of your home that is LEGAL?

We have to be very careful...this is America. This is the reason we love to live here with ALL of our freedoms! I may not like some things, but I sure as hell will tolerate them because I LOVE my freedom!

What will society tolerate as far as everyone loosing our rights? How far will we let others push us around? Personally it scares the shit out of me, I do not want people dictating to me what I can LEGALLY do in the privacy of my own home! (I could go on a rant but I won't) What is that flag we have? Don't Tread on Me! Maybe we need to pull that one out again!

And NO I am not a smoker.

Posted by: Gypsy at February 9, 2005 10:23 AM

I think it infringes on a person's rights. I understand that the company wants to keep healthcare costs low, but what will employees be fired for next? Obesity? Will they institute a policy that mandates employees maintain a certain weight, and if they go over it, can be fired? What the heck is this world coming to? It's tough enough to find a job, now you have to worry about being fired because you're a smoker?!

Posted by: Milly at February 9, 2005 10:40 AM

You know, using health care costs and the bottom line as a way to encroach on personal liberties is right up there with my controlling ex-husband telling me I couldn't drive 90 miles to the mall because I might break down and I'm a girl and he would worry about me, and that it was for my own good.

Bullshit.

I agree: if you open this door, then next, they will fire obsese employees or put them on diet and exercise programs, and what is even worse, in today's political climate, how long before they start firing people for living in sin? How long before they start saying you can't have a drink outside of work?

What I do when I am not on the clock is MY business. There are other ways to address this issue, such as making the smokers pay higher costs, as has been mentioned above.

I cannot believe that people are not up in arms over this. Talk about arbitrary reasons for being fired...

Posted by: jenorama at February 9, 2005 11:06 AM

ridiculous.

I'm not a smoker... but that's insane.

Hey... Big Macs cause you to get fat and have heart problems... are they going to administer tests for that?

Posted by: Snidget at February 9, 2005 11:11 AM

I think that employees should be allowed to smoke provided that they pay out of pocket for smoking cessation classes and all other smoking-related healthcare costs that they may incur. If they're not willing to do that, then they should learn to live with the company policy since the company is the one paying their smoking-related medical bills and they have a right to refuse to do so.

Posted by: Liz at February 9, 2005 11:17 AM

I haven't read the articles yet, but will after giving my two cents. :)

Being that I work with renewals of health insurance, I can understand Weyco's concern with how medical costs for smokers can be higher than non-smokers, especially when you're talking about spreading risk over a group, non-smokers are paying more in health insurance because they are being underwritten within a certain employer group. But in the same instance, with life, there is risk in everything. Those people who can't even walk down the street and chew gum at the same time for example. Those people who exercise their right to right dune buggies, climb mountains or sky dive during the weekend? The other issue as well is that employers shouldn't be telling employee what they can't do off work hours. That's invasion of privacy.

If this type of policy making becomes the norm, although I can't see how it's being allowed in the first place, I'd be suing big time for invasion of privacy. And I think it'll only be a matter of time when someone tries to over ride that policy using the American Disabilities Act. All it takes is a physician willing to say this employee is disabled by their addiction to nicotine and needs a smoking accomodation during their mandatory 15 minute breaks during the work day. heh.

Okay off to read those articles!

Posted by: groovebunny at February 9, 2005 11:26 AM

it doesn't seem right to me, but i'm doped up on theraflu and can't think straight, so i'll have to leave it at that and provide no such reason WHY. :)

Posted by: tiffanie at February 9, 2005 11:48 AM

I think it's a fiscally responsible policy. It does seem to infringe on personal liberties though. But I have the choice to work there or not. Gut reaction is that it's wrong, but that may be because I'm just not knowledgable enough on the case law and regulations they are relying on to solidify their position. I do like the boldness of their assertation that some employees bad habits/judgement should not negatively affect the others. It would be a very hard line to draw though b/c what's next? No employees who don't wear seatbelts all the time? No employees who don't eat the USDA rec. allowance of veggies? Where's the limit?

Posted by: Bond Girl at February 9, 2005 11:59 AM

As an up-and-coming social worker, you can probably imagine what my reaction is to Weyco's new policy. One of our main ethical principles is Social Justice. We are obligated to work towards social change on many different types of injustices. The injustice that comes to mind in this situation is discrimination.

Yes, smoking increases health risks which can lead to higher costs in healthcare. Yes, Weyco has a right to protect themselves from that financial burden. No, this does not justify discrimination--it's illegal.

I wouldn't be surprised if this goes pretty far into the court system. Anything that violates (or appears to violate) our civil liberties is always a hot topic! It will be very interesting to see how this progresses....!

Posted by: Raybelle at February 9, 2005 12:04 PM

If the question is health care costs, then their insurance plan should drop coverage (or charge more) for smokers. Not the employer.

Same way auto insurance costs more for 17 year old males, since they have a higher accident rate. Should McDonalds not hire teenage males since they have to pay more for insurance?

Same with obesity (and that will be coming down the pike, probably in ten years). As health care costs skyrocket, I expect insurance companies to get more aggressive.

Posted by: ben at February 9, 2005 12:08 PM

I can see where the company is coming from. Studies have shown how smoking increases illness, absenteeism, etc. But I say let the smokers stay. The smoke break is going to be my excuse if I am ever told to lay off the internet at work. I don't take multiple smoke breaks a day; therefore, I can play around a little if I like.

Posted by: smartjuice at February 9, 2005 12:14 PM

I'm not a smoker and I have asthma, so you can imagine how I feel about smoke in general(though I do recognize the whole personal choice thing - hey I drink too much coffee),but this is a whole slippery-slope argument here. This is wrong on so many levels, I don't know where to start.

Posted by: Sue at February 9, 2005 12:26 PM

I don't think that the issue here is really about smoking or health care costs - I think it crosses the line into personal liberty. We all know that smoking isn't good for you, but the company you work for shouldn't dictate what you do in your personal time - that starts heading back towards serf-dom.

Someone commented here that we've given ourselves up to the allmighty dollar a little to much - I agree. And the more control we give up, the easier it is for companies to dictate more and more of our lives. Let's face it, most of us are already over that 8 hours a day thing anyway.

As for the assertion that you can always work in another company -- if one succeeds in enforcing this type of rule, so will others. As Americans, we tend to be complacent with our freedoms ... the frog in the frying pan. Turn up the heat slowly, he'll never notice. I think the following quote is good to keep in mind (others have alluded to this with the "fat people are next" comments):

'First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I said nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing. Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up for me.

Posted by: MsAC at February 9, 2005 12:31 PM

Brother, please! Everyone else pretty much said it for me. This slope is too slippery.

This is wrong on so many levels, the least of which is the invasion of privacy issue. If smoking were a crime, then I would expect the company to disallow it. But until we have a complete legal prohibition on cigarettes, I cannot see one valid reason for a company policy like this.

If the good people of America continue to let private corporations dictate what we can and can't do in our own private life, this country will cease to be a republic, or a democracy, or whatever. Our government is already being strongly influenced, if not controlled, by big corporations, and for many of us, company policy dictates much of how we spend 8 - 10 hours a day. Are we going to let them take away what to many people are some of life's little pleasures? Are we going to relinquish total control just so we can pay the mortgage and the car payment?

Even if you are not a smoker, you should be very worried about trends like this. Like many other commenters said, what's next? Big Macs?

Posted by: ms.quilty at February 9, 2005 01:02 PM

I have to agree with everybody else. It is a major invasion of privacy and the employees should have to incur the cost increase. Many health insurance comanies will require "entrance exams" of sorts and detrmine what the individuals risks are. I think they should make changes to their policy so that those who have a higher average of medical costs per year have to pay more into the insurance plan. I don't know how feasible that would be but it seems more logical to me.

Posted by: Carrie Jo at February 9, 2005 01:27 PM

I wonder how everyone on this comment thread voted in the last election...HA HA HA

Posted by: wn at February 9, 2005 01:39 PM

My first thought on this was Fuck That. After reading the articles, I'm a little calmer.

I think Weyers has taken his former football coach absolute power mentality and applied it to his 'team' at Weyco. He's ferociously pushing healthy lifestyles on his employees, (not only through the smoking ban, but with shared gym membership fees and their on-site walking path) and not stopping for those who may not be interested in living them. But, legally, he's within his rights to do so because Michigan has no law against it. Given their business and the fiscal ramifications, I can understand how Wyers and his constituents view this as important. I also appreciate the fact that he used various efforts to help smokers quit-- charging them extra for their insurance, offering courses, etc. so that in the end it wasn't as though they were blind sided by being let go. But with that said, I don't want to be told what I can or cannot do outside my 8-5 (nor do I think anyone does). After that, it's a not a job, it's my life. There's no room for any one else to live it for me.

Posted by: bmh at February 9, 2005 01:50 PM

I don't smoke, but I don't agree with this policy. Seems like a breach of privacy to me. Perhaps smokers should have to pay higher premiums than non-smokers...although that might already be the case. (I don't live in the U.S., so I don't know).

Anyhoo, that's just my two euro cents, based on what you wrote.

Posted by: Alison at February 9, 2005 02:10 PM

Here is my thought. I don't smoke, I don't like being near smokers, and I generally gripe about and avoid smokers. That being said, if some idiots want to kill themselves by smoking, it is legally their right.

However... companies can hire and fire people at will (ok, unless you are in a union). Companies often decide to hire people (or not hire people) based upon non-pc reasons... you know it's true. Thus, Weyco can decide against hiring people because they can smell smoke on their clothing. They can also let someone go for that same reason. Is this politically correct? Hell no. But, it is their right to do so. (Please note at this point the employee is eligible for unemployment insurance because they were let go without cause)

I think it is an interesting concept. A company knows what the costs of smoking are, not only it's dollar amount, but also it's human cost. They are choosing to not deal with that cost.

However, this opens a huge can of worms. If they are going to test for nicotine, they should also check for drugs and alcohol. And if they only want to have "healthy" workers, how are they going to deal with obesity. Eventually, they will be checking cholesterol, sugar levels, etc. At some point, no worker will ever be healthy enough to work for them.

I do believe Weyco has the right to let employees go because they can smell smoke on their clothing, as they have the right to terminate employment at will. They also have the right to not allow an employee to smoke on their campus. However, Weyco does not have the right to test to see if nicotine is in an employees system, UNLESS they are willing to test for all other legal substances and fire all employees along the same grounds. You come to work drunk, you are fired, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

And, just so we are clear... I voted for Kerry.

Posted by: gwen at February 9, 2005 02:22 PM

They were talking about this very thing on Air America last night, and one of the callers was talking about a case where some police department began to use their "random" drug screens to test their female officers for pregnancy, so that they could use the information in assigning cases. I have no idea if that is true or not, but that is the kind of thing that would worry me in this situation. If they are going to start testing for nicotine, what else will they be looking for to use against employees? I agree that the slope is too slippery to start down.

Posted by: Dabney at February 9, 2005 02:40 PM

Well. I've come on to this thread fairly late in the day, but most everyone has eloquently stated how I'm feeling: this is bullshit. It's not about smoking, it's about the slippery slope that comes after. Total, total bullshit.

Posted by: Heather at February 9, 2005 04:10 PM

The first thing that popped into my head was: the FUCK? I mean, I can't stand cigarette smoke, and I think it's a vile and destructive habit, but really. Not their call. They can base insurance on whether or not a person smokes, but they don't get to tell grown people what to do on their downtime.

Posted by: Fraulein N at February 9, 2005 04:15 PM

I'm with Lee, this opens the door for a whole bunch of other things. If smoking causes health problems, so does what we eat so I can easily see that leap being made. I have already lost possible jobs because of my weight, I wouldn't want to be fired over it. I just think this is a serious step over the line for this company.

Posted by: Carla at February 9, 2005 04:48 PM

Smoking is indeed a vile and nasty habit but the reality is that it is a legal product. I, as a smoker, wish that it wasn't legal. If there were no smokes to buy, there would be no one smoking them. But then again, that would just hurt more "bottom lines" of companies.
I think the idea of fireing anyone for what they do in their own time is load of horse shit. I understand companies that take up a no-smoking policy on company grounds but it is insane to actually fire someone for the use of a legal substance.

Posted by: Bayou at February 9, 2005 04:50 PM

I'm kind of shocked I'm the only one who knows this out of the 43 people that commented:

YOU CAN BE FIRED FOR BEING OVERWEIGHT.

The woman who the month prior was employee of the month at an Appleby's (or Ruby Tuesday's) was fired a few months back for "appearance".

She dressed and bathed just like everyone else. It's just that she was (not very) overweight.

It's PERFECTLY LEGAL for them to do this.

Being an American company, they can discriminate EXCEPT FOR the basis of gender, religion, race, and SOMETIMES age. It's section 1983 of federal law on discrimination. I've been studying it.

Kind of scares me when people don't even know their own rights.

Posted by: alektra at February 9, 2005 05:18 PM

I live in Michigan.

I smoke.

I am also the health insurance administrator(among other things) for the company I work for.

We changed insurance this past year and everyone had to undergo a physical for it. Smokers WERE NOT marked as high of risk as OVERWEIGHT employees. And we have more overweight people than we do smokers. The overweight people have lots more health issues than any of us who smoke. (21 employees, 5 smokers, only 2 women employees who are not potential pregnancies on this rated health care plan.)

Please note, we certainly didn't go with Weyco for insurance.

I bet which ever Brainiac at Weyco who implemented this policy is FAT.

And Michigan is an at will state for work; you can fire someone for no reason at all. This does not, however, include discrimination, which I clearly think this is.

I do think that this is going to go far in the courts and I do think, since Michigan is a union oriented state, worker bee type of place and since the economy here is abysmal, Weyco is going to get their asses handed to them by some judge.

How about all the people that show up for work every day hungover out of their minds? That could get a DUI on their way in? That's acceptable?

This pisses me off.

Posted by: Lisa of the Lisa Life at February 9, 2005 06:24 PM

I'm calling bullshit. It isn't an intoxicant, it is legal, and my employer has no right to tell me what activities I can or can't engage in off the clock.

As much as I loathe lawsuits, this needs one.

Posted by: Tami at February 9, 2005 06:57 PM

It seems to me that since tobacco is legal, Weyco has no right to tell anyone they may not smoke. Especially on their own time.

If they were talking illegal drugs, fine, but that's not the issue here.

Yes, there's the health care impact and so on, but that's the thing about freedom of choice: YOUR choice. Not your boss's choice.

Posted by: OSG at February 9, 2005 07:28 PM

Yes, I'm late to the game, I admit it. But I figured I'd put in my two cents anyway. If this company is deciding to go down this path, there are lots and lots of other things that should be banned because they are a danger to the health of their employees, not the least of which is driving a car. So, let's see, we've got smoking, drinking, driving a car, eating eggs, staying out in the sun too long, not breathing fresh air enough, not eating enough tomatoes, not eating enough protein, eating too much sugar, skiing, skateboarding, and, in my case, climbing stairs - which can all lead to severe health problems. Where does it end? As long as these things are legal and they are not done to the detriment of one's ability to do their job, these corporations have to suck it up and let people live their lives. 'Cause what are we faced with otherwise? I'm thinking of 1984. Constant surveillance to make sure we all act and think the proper way. Reminds me of a class I didn't take in high school. I went to a private school. The teacher of Problems of Democracy declared that any one of his students caught listening to rock 'n' roll music at any time (during school hours or not), would automatically fail his course. I rebelled against fascism then, as I do now. I didn't take his class but I still got kicked out of school.

Posted by: Empress at February 9, 2005 10:30 PM

Talk about being late to the party!

First things first, there's no way they should get away with this for all of the same reasons everyone else has listed.

Being a non-smoker, however, I hate cigarettes and the damn smell that accompanies it...not to mention that pesky little cancer thing.

I will point out that one of the commenters made the comment that there are a lot of other things that can be bad for you, such as sex, alcohol and fast food. One key difference I'd like to make is that none of those are a) inherently addictive like nicotine or b) inherently cancer-causing.

Personally? I'd love to see cigarettes and cigars outlawed altogether. It's a drug...a very addictive one that kills people...not as quickly as a cocaine overdose, but slowly over the years. We all pay for the higher healthcare costs associated with treating lung cancer and smoking cessation programs.

I'm not sure what I'd tell all of those tobacco farmers down in the South, but I think we could impose a federal tax (a sizeable one) on cigarettes for a period of, say, five years with the understanding that, at the end of that time, the taxes collected during that period would be disbursed to tobacco farmers as compensation for putting them out of business. I don't know how many packs of cigarettes are sold in a year, but I'm betting it's a lot.

I know I'm not going to make any fans out of the smokers out there, but hey...felt like throwing this out there.

A parting question for those smokers...if you were given the option, would you go back in time and change your decision to start smoking in the first place?

Posted by: Joe at February 10, 2005 10:43 AM

The anti-smoking campaign has finally done its job. Drug addicts can get insurance-sponsored rehab, despite the fact that by it's very nature being addicted to illegal drugs means that at some point you have committed a crime.

It's funny how cigarette smoking and obesity are the two biggest health risks and also the two addictions that many people think can be broken by "willpower".

No one expects a drug addict to quit using sheer willpower or calls drug addiction "a bad habit". But both obesity and smoking are still thought by many to be the habits of a weak-willed individual.

It has gotten well over 100% harder and more expensive to be a smoker in this country in the last 10 years and people are convinced we're doing this for fun? Seriously?

Posted by: That Girl at February 10, 2005 10:48 AM

I agree with you, That Girl. I'm too young to (regretfully) admit that I've been smoking nearly a decade. I've tried to quit a few times but at the risk of ripping people's face off, I have not been able to completely put them down. There are certainly people who can "socially" and casually smoke and then there are those of us who are bound by horribly addictive personalities.

I battled with alcohol addiction at a very young age and went through a frightening period of drug abuse, so I guess in a way I'm thankful that my camel lights are the only thing I haven't been able to walk completely away from.

And to Joe- If I could go back and never have bought that first pack of Marlboro Red's I would in a HEART BEAT! I think I only started in the first place to rebel and give the finger to my dad who always smoked around me despite the fact that I was allergic. I was a foolish pre-teen following a foolish example.

Posted by: Bayou at February 10, 2005 12:30 PM

ok, i'm a little late because i think you've already posted a 'manifesto' but without reading anything, i don't see how they can do that. i'm all about banning smoking in public places and in bars and restaurants and wherever it effects people who don't smoke, but what you do in your home is your business. yes, there are health care costs, but i still don't know how you can get away with that.

Posted by: laura at February 10, 2005 04:47 PM

I realize I'm chiming in a bit late, but I gotta say: That's some bullshit.

I would think the fired employees might even be able to file a lawsuit over this.

Posted by: Gweny at February 11, 2005 10:47 AM