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· Tobacco Institute
Jump to full article: Doc-Alert (Smokefree.net), 2001-05-14
Author: Anne Landman
The Tobacco Institute instigated a wave of anti-discrimination legislation that swept the country between 1989 and 1993. The industry's efforts began after a wave of media exposure of the social costs of smoking in the 1980s. The "social cost theory," as the industry referred to it, revealed that employees who smoke cost employers more than nonsmoking employees. The higher costs were linked to more absenteeism, higher health care costs, increased cleaning costs in the workplace, the taking of cigarette breaks, etc. With social-costs information being widely disseminated around the country, employers began looked less favorably upon smoking in the workplace and started eliminating smoking areas. Some also began expressing a preference to hire nonsmokers.
To keep employers from specifying "smokers need not apply" when hiring, the tobacco industry began introducing anti-discrimination bills that in actuality were "smoker protection" measures.
One R.J. Reynolds document shows that such efforts made for some strange bedfellows. In discussing allies to be recruited to help pass industry-created "anti-discrimination" legislation, one tobacco industry organizer listed that he needed to make visits to the leader of the local gay and lesbian organization, Catholics for Free Choice and the Chamber of Commerce. . .
Today's document is a Tobacco Institute map that shows that by September 23, 1992, the industry had passed its smoker protection/"anti-discrimination" laws in 15 states prior to 1992, that within the year 1992 the industry had enacted these laws in 5 more states, had 2 more bills waiting on governor's desks to be signed, and was pressing for passage of these measures in 5 more states. It appears from the map that the industry's smoker-protection measures were defeated in about 11 states.
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