Company Fires All Employees Who Smoke Cigarettes

Press Release January 25, 2005
Media Contact

Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384

Four employees have been fired from a Michigan heath care company for refusing to take a test to determine whether they smoke cigarettes. The company, Weyco Inc. adopted a policy that allows employees to be fired if they smoke, even if the smoking happens after business hours or at home.

The founder of the company, Howard Weyers said the anti-smoking rule was designed to protect the company from high heath care costs. “I don’t want to pay for the results of smoking,” he said.

The Drug Policy Alliance, a national organization that promotes drug policies grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights, slammed the policy as both discriminatory and offensive.

“It is outrageous to fire someone for smoking cigarettes” said Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Following this logic, you could fire people for eating fast foods or motorcycle riders for participating in a ‘dangerous’ hobby. The fact that these people smoke on their own time has no impact on their ability to do their jobs.”

The CFO of the company credited the policy with helping 14 of the company’s smokers quit. The Drug Policy Alliance countered by saying the ends don’t justify the means. “If you threatened to throw those cigarette smokers in jail you would probably get some people to quit,” added Mr. Newman, “but we have to offer compassion and understanding when it comes to helping people deal with addiction, instead of ruining their lives with unemployment and shame.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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