Whose Life Is It Anyway

(CBS) What you do on your own time could land you in trouble with your employer. More businesses are cracking down on unhealthy habits, such as smoking, to cut down on health-care costs. …All were legal firings and, in fact, employers can fire workers for just about anything in 45 states.
RE: Weyco update: Whose Life is it Anyway?
In an interview with Morry Safer, “Weyers admits he never really measured how much the smokers he once employed cost him and acknowledged it may not have cost him anything.”
The story also quotes “Even so, Lewis Maltby says it’s going to be near impossible to marshal support for smokers.
“Smoking has become more than a health issue. Smoking has become a moral issue. Somehow people look at smokers and say, ‘You’re a bad person because you smoke.’ I don’t know quite how that happened. But it has.” “
So are smokers bad people
On one hand, Weyers fires loyal competent employees without even knowing for sure if they really cost more to employ, on the other hand, we have proof in this story, claims smokers cost more to employ, have societal costs. ….but lets see if we can find proof the smokers themselves really do have societal costs related to employment.
I have looked up data from the U.S.Department of Labor. In 1970, the average American worker took 5.4 days/ year unscheduled absences, and in 1989, 5.6 days. In 1970 the average was 6.1 bed disability days/sick worker, and in 1989, 6.5. In 1970, the average was 14.6 restricted activity days/sick worker, and in 1989 15.2.
But wait a minute… in 1970 didn’t we have twice as many workers who smoked? We most certainly did. In 1989, our public health officials gleefully announced half of all Americans who ever smoked had quit, and for the first time, there were more ex-smokers than current smokers. Any purported health benefit that quitting smoking would lead to cost savings for employers certainly didn’t show up in the U.S Dept. of Labor’s time-loss statistics.
Based on this data, if Weyers had bothered to measure how much his former smoking employees cost him, he probably would have found no excess costs. Failing to do this fairly characterizes Weyers the real “bad person” in this story.
The real eye-popper is the foot note at the end of the story that Weyers has been accused of sexual-harrassment by another former employee who was not fired for smoking….So judge for yourself….who is the real bad person here?
David W. Kuneman
Assistant Midwest Regional Director
The Smoker’s Club, Inc.
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