Will Fort Worth Be The 1st Major City To Ban Hiring Smokers?
FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Businesses are doing it, hospitals are doing it… will the City of Fort Worth be the next employer, and first major city in the country, to ban the hiring of smokers?
Couple the fact that Mayor Betsy Price has said one of her goals is to have a healthier Fort Worth and a contest has city employees competing to find the best way to cut city costs.
During the Fort Worth city council meeting members were briefed on a proposal to stop hiring people who use tobacco.
Fort Worth City Manager Tom Higgins feels the idea is one that should be considered.
“Overall I think there was a strong belief that not only does it provide financial benefits for us and our health insurance, but to work with employees to get in a smoking cessation plan and just not to encourage it by hiring additional people,” he said.
But not every city leader is onboard with the idea.
“Non-smokers are probably healthier and probably would not use our insurance as much, but at the same time excluding smokers I think is a real problem,” city councilmember Frank Moss said of the concept.
CBSDFW.COM visitors and KRLD NewsRadio 1080 listeners have left comments, both for and against the idea.
One person said, “It’s a slippery slope. What is it going to be next? Is it going to be refusing to hire people who consume alcohol?”
Arguing from a legal aspect another man commented, “People have a right to do what they want. The point is it’s not an illegal activity.”
But one woman thought the non-smoking measure wasn’t going far enough. “I love it. I think it is a great idea,” she said. “I also think they should expand it to folks with Type II Diabetes and high blood pressure.
There are questions about how the ban would be enforced. Some people are suggesting employees would likely take a drug test for nicotine.
The fact that it takes several months for nicotine to get out of your system must also be considered — leading to questions about people who have recently quit smoking.
Moss said the cost/benefit dynamic must also be considered. “I think it’s also gonna be important to look at how many staff people we have right now who are smokers.”
As it stands, the City of Fort Worth Human Resource Department is studying various healthcare policies, including those of employers like Baylor Health System. On January 1 Baylor began a new health program that includes charging current employees extra if they smoke and screening prospective employees for tobacco usage.
If the council considers the measure it would be at least a month before a vote.