Did You Know That . . . ?

. . . Cigarette smoking is bad for your career?

There is an accelerating trend among employers to penalize employees for smoking cigarettes, even if that smoking is on their own time, in their own homes.

If you work for Macy’s, effective July 1, 2011, if you admit to smoking cigarettes on your own time, you must pay an additional $35 per month (that’s $420 per year) for health insurance. However, if you agree to attend quit-smoking classes, the extra fee will be deferred.

At Pepsico, employee-smokers pay an annual $600 health insurance surcharge. Employees of publisher Gannett who smoke are charged an extra $60 per month (that’s $720 per year.)

It gets worse: Union Pacific Railroad and Scott’s Miracle-Gro fertilizer producer refuse to even hire smokers. Job applicants at the Cleveland Clinic – which will not hire smokers – must have their blood checked for nicotine.

But here’s a positive side, as well: Scotts Miracle-Gro cuts $60 per month off employee health care contribution for workers and their spouses who get their weight, cholesterol and blood pressure checked regularly. And Union Pacific offers free fitness club access.

Courts have generally upheld such measures because healthy employees tend to be out sick less, incur less health care expense, are less accident-prone and, in general, are more productive.

Smokers take heed.

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover All Rights Reserved. Commercial Use Prohibited.