The rationale behind these policies has been primarily economic, citing greater insurance-costs for smokers and the savings implied by eliminating them from the workforce. In some less aggressive situations, persistent smokers are imposed a "Tobacco User Surcharge" of $20 per paycheck and offered waived co-payments for smoking-cessation drugs.
As one might presume, this subject isn't without controversy. Many argue that in efforts to address the effects of tobacco, other confirmed sources of ill-health are treated with less concern, such as transfats, nitrates, obesity, excessive sugar consumption and sloth. The fact that not just smoking, but tobacco and nicotine itself are being banned beyond the workplace, is certainly worth some consideration — especially while they remain legal activities.
Is tobacco an intrinsically wicked plant? In Sweden, where tobacco products are commonly used in the form of snus, tobacco-related cancers are amongst the lowest in Europe. Due to its curing process, nitrosamines — a primary carcinogen in tobacco — are found in much lower levels in Swedish snus than in other tobacco products. Snus is even labeled as a food product in Sweden. Strangely, what so often seems left out of anti-tobacco rhetoric are the aspects of abuse, deceptive advertisement and peculiar ingredients. Whether or not tobacco can cause grievous harm is not a matter to contest; but maybe perspective has wandered. Would we decline employment to the likes of an Oppenheimer, Hubble, or Einstein because they toked a smoke 6 months ago? Surely one might encourage them to quit, but to shun? Have we become so self-righteous that we no longer lend others the privilege of indulging in lawful behavior? Without making any cases for a hideous industry, can it be asked if this is going too far?"
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