Friday, September 29, 2006

Nibbling Away at Our Rights

There is a company who has decided not to hire smokers. They claim that health insurance is higher for smokers. They've also said they'll fire any employee that doesn't try to quit smoking ... that's the palatable spin. Since they followed up that news with the fact that they'll be doing random drug testing for nicotine, they should just say they're going to fire anybody who smokes.

This policy isn't really about smoking. While it may sound like a conspiracy theory, it's really a test to see just how much power big business has to control their employees. Today they've chosen smoking, tomorrow they will fire all the red haired, fair skinned people. They have delicate skin and it's more expensive to treat their sunburns. This policy is testing the ability to strip citizens of their rights.

Today it's smoking, if they get away with it, tomorrow it could be our right to practice whatever religion we choose, or our right to own property. Unchecked, we are destined to repeat our most hideous pages of history. An employer has the right to control the environment in his workplace, they don't have the right to control what I do at home.


DaveM said...

Kat I know you smoke as you had the line "smoking in a sunbeam" a while back, which I thought was a good one. In the US as you pay for your medical treatment I suppose you do have a choice as to what you do. But that Co. it was probably also protecting the rights of non smokers in that they should have to inhale other peoples smoke. Smokers tend to be prone to more respiratory illnesses and maybe have more sick days, then those that are in work have to do more to compensate.

In many things does the legislation that most countries have give us a freedom of choice?

An emotive subject!!!!

Dr.John said...

I worked for a company one summer that fired over weight people. They said that fat people had more illness. I knew somebody in the office and they he hid my weight until the summer was over and I went back to college.

Kat Campbell said...

Dave: I do smoke, but that's not why I'm so opposed to this kind of policy. I'm a polite smoker, I always do it outside, and not even there if its blowing toward a non-smoker. Non-smokers have the right to clean air. I'm opposed to this kind of policy because of the precedent it sets for other discrimination to occur. I have the right to ruin my own health, I'm even willing to pay for it. If this employer charged the cost of smoking related illnesses directly to their employees, I wouldn't have a problem with them at all.

Dr. John: What was a nice man like you doing working for a mean company like that?

Sunflower Optimism said...

oooh, HOT topic Kat! Tough one. I know some dear people, gone from smoking, I am very against smoking. But I am very pro civil rights.

I agree with the laws banning smoking in the work place - which originated in Suffolk County, where I live, by the way. The danger of second-hand smoke has been sufficiently demonstrated, to warrant such action. I don't feel that a company can dictate what you do at home, though.

But for one tiny, nagging thought - if smokers get sick more often, this causes insurance to rise. If insurance costs go up, companies tend to chip away at everyone's benefits to bring costs back down. To me, this does not seem fair. My husband's employer has options available for a premium - for example, we pay extra to be able to choose our own doctors. Perhaps, as you mentioned, an option where smokers could pay an insurance premium in lieu of getting fired, so that their smoking would not affect the general insurance pool? I know for our life insurance, our premiums are lower because we don't smoke and our cholesterol is in line.

But then there is another tiny, nagging thought. My MIL has pulmonary fibrosis and is on oxygen 24/7. She never smoked a day in her life. Things happen. What if a smoker did get sick - chances are a lung cancer was probably due to the smoking - but is "probably" good enough? How can one be 100% sure what caused an illness?

Great topic, Kat and I'm not convinced either way yet, I don't have enough facts. Btw, "Boston Legal" had an episode last season on this very topic. I would put a link here to BL, but don't know how :-(

Ordinary Janet said...

I guess I'm screwed-I smoke, and I have red hair and fair skinned and I've had one skin cancer removed already. Should I start looking for a cardboard box to live in?

We'll know for certain this is a power play when they start going after all the overweight people. They'll follow you on your lunch hour and if you go to McDonald's they'll get photos and fire you. I don't think George Orwell could have thought this stuff up.

Kat Campbell said...

Its a sticky topic, isn't it Sunflower? I've been a rights watch dog ever since a single citizen was able to remove prayer from school, mostly because the rest of us just weren't paying attention.

Janet - Don't get the cardboard box yet, I will forever fight for the rights of red haired, fair skinned people to remain employed!

Hayden said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

I agree with you. I understand what they are trying to accomplish and I sympathize with them, but it's a short step from that to mandatory pre-employment genetic screening to find out what you might be susceptible to.


Sunflower Optimism said...

Here's another one Kat - NYC wants to outlaw the use of trans fats in all restaurants. There are suitable substitutes, from what I've read - the only problem being the shelf life for trans fats is a lot longer. But if you think about it, do you really want to eat in a restaurant that needs such a huge shelf-life for food?

They've had people on the news, complaining about how they should be able to eat trans fat, if they choose. Me, I'm a label-reader, so I choose NOT to eat trans fat.

But another dilemma about rights, don't you think?

I wish I knew how to link -- there is a great column in today's NY Times about "what will they think of next." If you go to the web site and search for "blintzes", you'll get it. Pretty funny.

Kat Campbell said...

Thanks for dropping in Hayden! We can't be too careful in protecting our rights, once they're gone, they are gone forever.

Thanks for the update Sunflower, I usually check out the NY Times everyday, haven't done it yet today.

Jackie's Garden said...

Kat, yes, I think it's a slippery slope. And not just because I smoke. Where does it stop? When they have eliminated smokers, those who are overweight, etc. - will they then require gene testing to eliminate hiring people who MAY be prone to illness? Too scary.

zingtrial said...

Hi I agree with you I am of live and let live.People should be allowed to do what they want to do as long it does not bother another human being. :) .
Wish you well
Have a nice weekend

Kat Campbell said...

More important than ever that we vote,huh Jackie?

Zine - thanks for coming by! I agree with you, live and let live!

patsy said...

oh i am union, yes i am union.
i will be union till i die!

Gela's Words said...

That can't be legal! Is it? I can't believe that! That's crazy!

Gela's Words said...

Just read the first comment of Davem and had to comment. I don't smoke and hate the smell of cigarettes. I do believe too that the non-smoker shouldn't have to be exposed unnecessarily to indirect smoke. Hence I don't believe in smoking inside the building. But I do think that saying smokers will be fired is infringing on the rights of others. cAn't be right!

Let me go finish reading the comments.

Kat Campbell said...

Gela, until I actually saw this happening I didn't think it was legal either. Where are the discrimination lawyers? I believe some employee will actually get the ax and then sue, but by then, it may be too late.

Stunner said...

I am totally against smoking, and I am if full agreement that a company has the right to prohibit smoking on the job or on the companies premises. But, deciding to refrain from hiring a person because he/she smokes, doing random nicotine test and firing someone for not choosing to quit is taking it too far! That's a descrimination and a violation of a persons right to free choice!

Kat Campbell said...

Absolutely right stunner, that's why it wasn't really a smoking issue to me, it was a RIGHTS issue. People have the right to do whatever they want in the privacy of their own home.

Barnze said...

Same crap here in the UK..pisses me right off..I'm off for a smoke.