US experts have called for the re-evaluation of some workplace policies, which are barring employment to smokers.
The trend for employers, especially in the US, to bar smokers from applying for jobs or staying in post is steadily on the increase, and experts have said in an essay published in Tobacco Control that they should be stopped until further evaluation of the policies.
As of August 2008, 21 US states and 400 cities, nine Canadian provinces, six Australian states/territories, and 14 other countries, including the UK, started the ban on smoking in public places like workplaces, bars, and restaurants.
But in the recent years, the ban has shifted to making 'workplaces free of smokers', and some companies have even cited "tobacco free candidates only" in their employment policies.
The policy was further encouraged with the WHO barring smokers from employment since 2005, and also by the National Cancer Institute, which encourages the preferential hiring of non-smokers.
Along with the health organisations, Weyco Inc, a US employee benefits company, stopped hiring smokers in 2003. It has also made smoking outside work an offence that can cost one's job, and recently extended that rule to employees' spouses too.
Authors from the Universities of Washington and Boston say as per the evidence these policies assist in curbing cigarette consumption and in prompting the need to quit, and also cuts down absenteeism and boosts productivity.
Even though the policy is trying to help smokers quit, there is a bad side that affects them when they are sacked or forced to resign, as many may not be able to find work again, which could prove hazardous to theirs and their family's health.
The authors call for a much wider public health debate, and for proper evaluation of these policies, on the grounds that "the potential unintended side effects.. could be far reaching."
"The evidence for and against must be carefully weighed up, to ensure we are addressing the fundamental determinants of tobacco use and reducing related health disparities," they warned.