Dictatorship for your own good

By Mir
April 8, 2005

I’m watching 20/20. On a Friday night. In my sweatpants. While drinking… cold water. Because I am a PARTY ANIMAL.

So there’s this piece on Weyco, a benefit management company that instituted a no-smoking policy. No big deal, right? You can’t smoke at work just about anywhere, anyway.

Not exactly. Weyco instituted a zero-tolerance policy on nicotine use, period. Employees were subject to random screenings and if nicotine was detected, they were terminated. The story was about whether or not this was legal, blah blah blah, Big Brother is watching yooouuuuuu, etc. And I don’t mean to make light of the greater ramifications of something like this.

Please disregard the giggles of glee that escaped while I watched this story.

I can’t help it. I’m a smoke-hating asthmatic. And smoking kills. A health care benefits corporation mandating nicotine abstinence as a condition of employment seems perfectly logical, to me. I think more companies should consider flexing their power for the Greater Good.

You work for Coca-Cola, and you test positive for Pepsi? Sacked.

You work for Neiman Marcus, and someone spots you inside Walmart? Laid off.

You work for DeBeers, and it’s discovered you’ve ever given a woman an appliance as a gift? Terminated.

The possibilities are endless!

(And just like that, I go from wishing I was out on a Friday night to having an entire legion of people around the world wishing I was out on a Friday night….)


  1. ben

    or, you work for Dr Pepper and test positive for Coke…

  2. jolene

    I think the hiring world is onto something here. These people don’t have to work there if they don’t want to, afterall. Alaska Airlines has this no tolerance policy if I remember correctly. They say it keeps costs low on health benefits. Smart folks!

  3. Jules

    ..could you hand me my lighter…it’s right there by your waaaaaaa..

    ouch ouch ouch

    OK sorry I get your point ;)

  4. Heather

    Gotta love these civil-rights quandaries. I agree with it too, but I also don’t think work has any right to dictate what I do outside of work. But then, they do give me life insurance, as well as the other life insurance I have (I’m worth way more dead than alive at this point) and those guys ask if I smoke. *shrug*

  5. HomefrontSix

    Personally speaking, I think smoking should be outlawed across the board – make it as illegal as smoking marijuana. Or legalize marijuana…but that’s a different discussion.

    Smoking is one of THE most disgusting habits known to man and probably one of the most expensive for society as well. I’d rather my health care premuiums and tax dollars go to pay for MY health care and not that of the person dying of an ailment brought on by SMOKING which was THEIR choice in the first place.

  6. alektra

    We had this discussion of legal smoking over at Chris’s blog a while back. I even made sure I was right by bothering my Constitutional Law professor. (I’m also one of those asthmatics, Mir.)

    If poor people don’t have a right to food, clothing and shelter, I don’t see what smoking is going to do. Yes, helping poor people requires an action instead of stopping an action. But the Constitution doesn’t say anything about smoking, and we have an Amendment that says we can ban drinking in a state entirely if it wants to. If this country cared more about giving a right to health care to all children instead of smoker’s “rights”, I’d say we’d actually have our heads screwed on. But of course, look at our “moral” president who lies all the time.

  7. Karry

    Hahaha! Test positive for Coke… LOL

    Nicotine is a legal drug, and I can agree that maybe not allowing it’s use during working hours (ala alchohol) but terminating someone’s job because they tested positive for a legal drug? Jeez – there’s a lot of situations where that (breathing nicotine) might be unavoidable (think spouse, think in-laws, think smoky bar/restaraunt).

    The next thing you know, people will be fired for bad teeth, or being fat, or having children. All those things make insurance more expensive ya know.

    I’m done now. I won’t soapbox on your blog. LOL But I too thought that was an interesting spot.

  8. BabsWife

    Here’s food for thought. When a firefighter goes off on disability for lung cancer there is no way to tell if it was due to the fires he/she fought or the years of smoking between those fires. Because of this, he/she gets full disability benefits on our dime. While I’d never support cutting a firefighter’s benefits, I do wholeheartly support a department/city’s right to only hire those who don’t smoke.
    It saves the departmen’ts money and it saves tax payer’s money.
    Exactly how is this case really all that different? But then again, I think that everyone who is on medicaid or any other public assistance should be required to maintain a healthy weight and required to do those basic preventive health things. Wonder if we could save a few bucks in the long run???

  9. Lou

    too funny! But true. I would like to see smoking outlawed. It kills. I’d still have my grandpa if he hadn’t been a smoker.

  10. Bubblehead

    I would say that an employee would have to sign a disclosure stating they would never request or accept Health, Life, or Disability payments. Maybe even include workmans comp and sick time. Because all those factors can increase employer costs, and smoking can increase all of them.

  11. Jennifer

    I’m a recent non-smoker, kind of cringing at this whole conversation. I first heard the story you refer to go months ago, before I quit. I agreed with the company’s right to enforce the policy even then.

    But…even as a non-smoker…I live in the heart of tobacco country. The same people who would regulate the industry into illegal status are the same ones who have benefitted – for a couple hundred years – from the crops very existence. Think about it. It isn’t just the ‘evil cigarette manufacturers’. It’s the farmers. The auctioneers. The storage silo owners. The truckers. The convenience store workers. Every US citizen who received anything from the federal government from roads to Medi-care (via the tax).

    NC is preparing to consider a $2-3 tax on cigarettes. To me, this is almost as good as making them illegal. Sad to admit, the thought of a $10 pack in my future is what broke my will to keep smoking.

  12. Amanda B.

    Oooh! You are bad! :D

    It makes sense from an employers standpoint- non-smokers tend to take less breaks, and become agitated less easily. That’s my hypothesis anyway.

    Now where are my damn cigerettes? ;)

  13. Pandora

    This point is moot, with the present trend in health care cost nobody will be able to afford it and not many companies will offer it. Now mix in DNA testing, IQ, vision tests, dental records and while were at it a credit check, after all wealthy people have better access to preventive medicine, who you going to hire? And who will pay for the people that can’t get jobs?

  14. kristy

    So, how would you feel if your employer instituted a no blogging policy? Even if you don’t blog on company time. Even if you’ve never posted so much as a word about your place of employment? You’ve established a forum that you could use in ways your employer might not approve of — that’s enough for them.

    Sure, it makes some sense that employers can prohibit a legal activity that might cost them money. But, so far, there is no such requirement to tie such a prohibition into cost-savings. So far, they can institute any policy they want. Because they can. And employees have little recourse, even when they done NOTHING wrong or illegal. Scary, if you ask me.

  15. Rockstar Mommy

    I was doing the same exact thing Friday night, except I was painting my bedroom at the same time. People really wish they could be this wild and exciting and carefree, I know!

  16. JuJuBee

    Ok, ok…what if you were chewing the nicotine gum, in an effort to stop the actual smoking?? You’d still test positive for nicotine, even though you weren’t actually smoking AND trying to quit! There is no easy way around this subject.

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest