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Companies Are Closing Door On Job Applicants Who Smoke ($$) 

Jump to full article: The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, 2004-12-21
Author: KRIS MAHER / Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL / December 21, 2004; Page B6

Intro:

Kick the habit -- or don't bother applying for the job.

That is the dictum at a growing number of companies that are adopting tough measures to eliminate smokers from their ranks in an effort to rein in health-care costs. Some are requiring job applicants to undergo nicotine testing or respond to questions about their smoking habits. Others are forcing current employees who won't quit smoking to give up their jobs.

On Jan. 1, Weyco Inc., a small medical-benefits administrator, no longer will employ people who smoke at its Okemos, Mich., headquarters . . .

Such antismoking policies are problematic for companies with employees in states with smokers' rights laws. Twenty-nine states, including Illinois, have laws that prohibit employers from discriminating against smokers. As a result, Weyco will continue to employ one smoker in Illinois, even after its policy in Michigan goes into effect, Mr. Climes says.

Nevertheless, smokers increasingly face hiring hurdles even at companies that don't have formal antismoking policies. "There is discrimination at many companies -- and maybe even most companies -- against people who smoke,"

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