Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Health and wellness are becoming the pretext for punishing the unpopular and discriminating against majority-disfavored personal activities. To Wit: A Massachusetts hospital is making job applicants take nicotine tests and refusing to hire if the victim applicant, shows signs of smoking the dreaded weed.  From the story:

If you smoke, don’t bother applying for a job at Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport. The hospital is requiring job applicants to take nicotine tests. If they test positive, they’ll be rejected. If they quit smoking, they can try again six months later. “How far do we want our private employers to intrude in our private lives?” asks employee rights attorney Philip Gordon. “What happens if, during that blood test, they find out something else about me?” Hospital spokesperson Deb Chiaravalloti says, “We believe as a health care organization we need to make sure we have a healthy environment for our employees and our patients. Smokers are not a protected class.”

Do we really want to validate the idea that discrimination is perfectly fine unless the law makes the victim a protected class?  We aren’t doing away with bias, just selecting different victims to squelch.

And if smokers can become unemployable—no matter their credentials—what’s next?  Will employers test sugar levels in the blood, measure body BMI, and look for crumbs from Jack in the Box hamburgers on the applicant’s/employee’s clothes?

But Wesley: Employers need to keep their health costs down!  Okay, then go after people with STDs or who are sexually promiscuous, because sex beyond mutually monogamous  partners is potentially much more unhealthy over the short term than smoking—a generally long term health issue.  But that will never happen (nor should it) because having an active sex life—even a reckless one—is not politically incorrect.

No, this is about beating up on the disfavored. Smoking is legal, and while the hospital certainly can prohibit smoking on premises, it has no business punishing those who smoke on their own time and in their own homes.  Indeed, if the let’s-make-all-smokers-unemployable idea ever catches on, we’ll have to fire the President of the United States.  Wait a minute.  On second thought...

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles