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SMokers - another issue


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2/8/2005 12:25 AM
Enzo
SMokers - another issue
I didn't want to wade into the othre smoker thread since it is already a mile long. But here is something to chew on. Up front, I don't smoke nor allow it in my shop, but I am really against the following.  
 
Here in Lansing, Mich. we have a company - Weyco Inc - that is in some insurance related activity. I think they administer benefit programs or something. ANyway, Mr Weyers decided that no one could smoke in his employ. Not just at work, but ever. He even has random tests for evidence of smoking - I assume urine, as administering blood tests would be a nightmare to pull off. He gave them like a few months advance notice that as of a couple weeks ago they would either be smoke free and ready to prove it or be fired. There is no union there, and Michigan is an at-will employment state. SO you can't smoke at home. They detect smoke, you're fired. Refuse the test, you're fired. FOur people were fired so far. At least a couple for refusing the test.  
 
The four folks were even on the Today show this past morning with a local legislator fighting it. The one woman reports she had called in sick only five days in 14 years adn did not get health insurance through the company anyway.  
 
He gives all the standard rationale for it. Statistically smokers will cause his health insurance rates to be higher, smokers will be out sick more often, etc. I am willing to bet his group health rate won't go down a penny, nor its cost to his staff.  
 
I am completely outraged by this. AS much as I hate cigarette smoke, it is a legal activity, and it is an activity that does not impair the senses or performance, unlike legal drinking. It may cause mild withdrawal symptoms when you want one, but nothing you can't ignore for as long as it takes til your break.  
 
I don't need to make up counter arguments, this is a huge issue in town and the anti consensus is that it is a slippery slope violating individual rights. What's next? Obesity, too many speeding tickets, certainly drinking, plenty of things to consider. Except for the fact it is specifically forbidden, I expect this asshole would be firing the disabled since they negatively impact his bottom line too. ANyone with a severe allergy maybe. COnsider the expense if I was chewing peanuts next to someone allergic. And on and on.  
 
I believe the man has a right to keep his place smoke free, but to tell his people they cannot consume legal products in their own homes on their own time is outrageous.  
 
SOme big executives adn show biz types have in their contracts that they will not do certain high risk things like pilot their own planes, race cars, mountain climb, etc. but these are exceptional contracts for people representing large enterprises involving millions. A precedent maybe but hardly applicable here.  
 
Chew on that.
 
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2/8/2005 2:20 AM
Steve A.

Enzo:  
 
    I agree with you on this... I assume that nothing was mentioned about not smoking when the employees were originally hired. I always think that it is uncool to change rules in the middle of a game.  
 
    So is Michigan an "At Will" state? In "at will" states, an employer can fire you for no reason at all... unless you can get a judge to agree that discrimination was involved. (Gee whiz... remember when it was a compliment to tell someone that they had "discriminating tastes"? ;) )  
 
    I remember a few years ago it was suggested that "Type A" individuals were more prone to heart attacks and premature death... so why not fire all of the asshole Type A managers and supervisors? ;)  
 
Steve Ahola  
 
P.S. There was something I wanted to add to the previous discussion on smoking but that thread got too long... :( As for the effects of second hand smoke, I can see the tars and nicotine when I clean electronic air cleaners- you never have to ask if someone in the house smokes because it is obvious from the sticky brown stains.  
 
    My point is that there is plenty of crap inside cigarette smoke even if you are not smoking the cigarettes yourself. Unless there is adequate ventilation I can imagine that second-hand smoke could cause health problems (they used to say that living in LA was as bad for your health as smoking a half pack a day!) However, just smelling someone's else smoke might not be a health hazard, and at that point I think that the violent non-smokers have gone too far.
 
2/8/2005 6:48 AM
Wild Bill

Nice to get some support from non-smokers!  
 
If you don't smoke yourself you usually are unaware that this sort of stuff is going on. We smokers face it almost everyday. That Mr. Meyers Enzo mentioned IS the anti-smoking movement!  
 
I swear there is nothing more popular than telling your neighbour how to live his life, except perhaps taxing him to pay for your own pet program.  
 
There is a segment of humanity that when given a little power can go completely fascist. There was a character in a British soap opera called Coronation Steet named Percy Sugden. He was the village nitpicker, always telling everyone they were breaking some rule or other and writing letter after letter to the local papers. His only job was "lollipop man" carrying a stop sign as a school crossing guard. In one episode his job went to his head and he started directing traffic and demanding the authourity to hand out tickets.  
 
Every town has its Percy Sugden. So does this particular forum have such "Concerned Citizen" and "Voice in the Wilderness" types. Lifestyle issues like smoking, drinking or whatever attract these types like moths to a flame. They are the first to volunteer for any enforcement job or committee on new rules.  
 
My home page yesterday had a news link to a movement in Britain to do the same for drinking as has been done for smoking. It had a long article comparing the evil effects of alcohol to that of nicotine, with drunk driving thrown in for good measure. The argument was that the precedent for more restrictions has been set with smoking.  
 
It was only a matter of time...  
 
---Wild Bill
 
2/8/2005 8:52 AM
Dutch

quote:
"    I agree with you on this... I assume that nothing was mentioned about not smoking when the employees were originally hired. I always think that it is uncool to change rules in the middle of a game."
 
 
I agree also. Not cool. But, when they've got you by the short & curlies, some folks like to twist for all they're worth....  
 
Nobody's yet "accidentally" run the guy over 38 times with their SUV? Amazing....  
 
C ya,  
Dutch
 
2/8/2005 9:25 AM
anon
yeah, but look at it this way.  
 
if all smokers quit smoking then my own health insurance costs would go down, and I don't even smoke.  
 
smokers are driving up everybodys health costs.
 
2/8/2005 12:44 PM
rooster
Your health insurance costs won't go down, the shareholders and managers of the plan will simply take the leftover money in a raise. There are fewer smokers now in the U.S. than ever before, and health costs are STILL rising. If I retire at 65 and die at 70 from smoking, I COST LESS in healthcare than if I live to 90 from not smoking. Do the math. Get it through your head. The corporate types and the trial lawyers are raising the costs. Not the smokers.  
 
This is a case of "doing something for their own good," which has worked so well in the past...  
 
rooster.
 
2/8/2005 5:02 PM
Neal

I am AMAZED that this employer could get away with this. I'm a non-smoker, and as a business manager I've seen first-hand how smoke breaks can hurt productivity. But, we put rules in place as to how many cigarette breaks are allowed, and the time limits. Problem solved. I cannot comprehend an employer telling his people what they cannot do on THEIR OWN TIME. If someone abuses sick leave, is unproductive, or has health problems due to smoking, company policies should already be in place to deal with those things.  
2 quick comments to add to the smoking thread... I heard a radio talk show years ago about smoking and cancer, and a tobacco farmer called in. He was a stock broker who decided to "get back to nature" and bought a tobacco farm. He was absolutely shocked to find out what the government allowed and encouraged him to spray on his tobacco plants to kill weeds and pests. His thought was that the chemicals sprayed on tobacco plants were probably much more hazardous to our health than the tobacco itself.  
2nd comment.. I don't mind smokers, but I HATE litterers. Every car I've ever seen has a built-in ashtray- why do so many smokers insist on throwing their butts out the window?  
Rant mode off..  
Neal
 

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