Want to make your employees smoking mad? Tell them they have to prove they don’t smoke.
In Arizona, some Maricopa County employees have to submit to saliva tests that test for nicotine, according to an article in the Arizona Republic. If they don’t, they pay an extra $480-a-year health insurance premium.
The test is seen as a way to cut health-care costs, which, as you probably know, have skyrocketed in recent years.
Smoking, as anyone who has read the side of a cigarette package, is bad for you. “Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy,” says one label, which seems pretty straight-forward. The Centers for Disease Control says smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., and smokers die an average of 13 years sooner.
Some Georgia hospitals, including those in Gwinnett and DeKalb, won’t hire smokers. Job applicants have to pass a blood test for nicotine. With rising healthcare costs, that may become a trend. Georgia, unlike some states, does not have a law prohibiting discrimination against smokers.
According to the Arizona Republic article, the county made the test mandatory because an statistically unbelievable number of employees claimed to be non-smokers. Despite the warning labels, the percentage of smokers has stabilized in recent years at about 20 percent.
In the article, one disgruntled employee says ”it goes against our personal liberties. Whether you smoke or not should be between you and your doctor, not you and your boss.”
She’s wrong. Because she chooses to smoke, her co-workers have been paying more for health insurance.
How much more?
* Cigarette smoking costs more than $193 billion (i.e., $97 billion in lost productivity plus $96 billion in health care expenditures) per year.
* Secondhand smoke costs more than $10 billion (i.e., health care expenditures, morbidity, and mortality) per year.