A problem arises with a company’s having a hiring policy that disqualifies smokers on the basis of a nicotine test because the applicant might be an e-cigarette or smokeless-tobacco user.
For instance, from next month, anybody looking to work for Flagler County, Florida, USA, will have to pass a nicotine test, according to a story on Watchdog.org (Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity).
A failed test would automatically disqualify a candidate and prevent him or her from working for the county for one year. The policy is being introduced under the guise of reducing the cost of health insurance.
But Gregory Conley, a volunteer legislative director for Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives (CASA), says that conflating tobacco use and nicotine with costs associated with smoking is bad policy.
“Mountain climbing has a far higher risk of death or injury than smoke-free nicotine usage,” said Conley. “But there are no public employers banning mountain climbers from gaining employment.”
CASA is an Alabama-based advocacy group dedicated to protecting access to reduced-harm alternatives to smoking, including electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, the use of which would trigger a failed nicotine test under Flagler County’s new hiring ban.
According to Conley, a carbon monoxide test would be more effective than a broad-based nicotine test for identifying smokers.
“Considering that 99 percent of all disease and death caused by tobacco is caused by inhaling smoke from cigarettes, punishing people who are using smoke free nicotine products—including Nicotine Replacement Therapy—is patently absurd,” said Conley.