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by Peter Moskos

February 10, 2011

Smoker-free worker

Ahhh, I hear the immortal if overused words of Martin Niemöller... then they started drug testing at work. But I did not complain, because I was not a drug user. Actually, just for the record, I've complained every time I've taken (and passed) a drug test.

Well it seems that now there are more places that are drug-testing for cigarettes. That's right. It's not that you can't smoke at work. It's that you can't work and be a smoker.

That ain't right. My work and my home life (even when I work from home) are separate. I don't want my boss telling me what I can and can't do when I'm not getting paid.

More worrisome is the precedent. This is exactly what people warned about when drug tests were first allowed, thanks to Ronald Reagan's getting tough on drugs. We're the only country that tests people for what they do outside of workplace.

First they test for illegal drugs. Then they test for legal drugs. If we don't draw the line, they'll test for fatty foods, kinky sex, and political conformity. It's not right.

People are up in arms with real and perceived government abuse of power. Where are the right-wing protesters when big corporations usurp the same power?


Dana King said...

Abuses by private industry and individuals have long worried me more than the government's restrictions on rights. The same people who would scream at government infringement of our rights will also say government can't restrict the private sector in a similar manner because "it's a free country."

Alan I said...

This one is surely a cost consideration and not a moral or legal one, though, right?

Out there: Company might not want lost time to cigarette breaks (hell no, I don't want to work for that company, either).

More likely: it costs a lot more to insure smokers (and drug users) for health and life.

Anyway, not defending it, but it's certainly a rational decision in and of itself.

PCM said...

Of course they defend it on cost grounds (after the substance has been demonized). But that doesn't make it right. So government needs to step in and prohibit the practice.

Marc said...

Here's an idea:

Instead of providing my health insurance, just give me the amount of money you would spend on insuring your average worker and let me decide what to do with it. Then I can, along with any of the other unclean persons i work with, band together and purchase group insurance. Problem solved.

PCM said...

Marc, the problem isn't solved. Because what if you don't go out and buy insurance, but instead get drunk and gamble away the money. Then who pays for surgery?