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Which Texas City Is Looking to Implement a Ban on Hiring Smokers?


"Because smokers are not a civil rights group, there's nothing they can do"

Fort Worth, Texas, is considering a smoking ban for all city employees -- both at work, and at home.

In an effort to lower healthcare costs, the city's mayor explained: "anything that might benefit the health to make our employees more protective and healthy, we're going to take a look at."

CBS DFW explored how locals feel about the issue:

"I think it's an infringement on the public's rights to live their life the way they choose to," said Vince Chasteen, who has worked for the city for 30 years, and smoked for 41.

"I feel like the next thing they want to do is take DNA samples to figure out if anybody is going to have any kind of diseases going forward," he continued.

The city is looking to model itself after private companies that have banned the hiring of smokers, like Baylor Healthcare System.  The company's president, Steve Newton, said that for every dollar it spends on health and wellness, the company saves $2.44.

Employment attorneys have noted that, because smokers are not a "civil rights group," there is nothing they can do to stop the potential ban.  Rather, they should probably get used to it, they say, because it seems to be a rising trend in all sectors.

However, it is not just smokers who are troubled by the measure.

Councilman Frank Moss remarked, "I do have some concerns about a hiring policy that says you would not be able to hire a person that smokes...I think we may lose a lot of good people in the process by excluding smokers." 

But the city manager says the bill, which will be submitted to his office on May 7, should at least be considered. 

"I think there was a strong belief that not only does it provide financial benefits for us and our health insurance," he said, but it also allows the city "to work with employees to get in a smoking cessation plan and just not to encourage it by hiring additional people."

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