Labor & Employment Law

Toledo mayor is planning to ban hiring of smokers

Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins plans to stop hiring tobacco and nicotine users as city workers, making it the largest city in Ohio to do so, the Toledo Blade reports.

“This is good public policy, and it’s not driven by anything political,” Mayor Collins says. He says an administrative policy prohibiting such hires will be written by mid-July.

Banning smokers has become common in the health-care industry and is spreading to governmental employment, Governing Magazine reported in an op-ed last year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates cost U.S. employers nearly $200 billion yearly in increased medical costs and lost productivity, Governing Magazine reported.

Collins says the new hiring policy will not affect current employees, but believes programs to help them stop smoking are needed. He cited the new-hire policies of private-sector employers such as Hollywood Casino Toledo and the Cleveland Clinic.

The mayor says the city is self-insured and that the “progressive step” will save money on health-care costs.

A spokesman for the parent company of Philip Morris USA, a tobacco company, said Collins’ policy would “unfairly target adult tobacco consumers based on their choice to use a legal product.”

Fairfax County, Virginia, recently considered a similar hiring policy but was advised by the county attorney that it would be illegal in the state. Virginia is one of about 29 states, plus the District of Columbia, that prohibit “lifestyle discrimination” in the workplace, Governing Magazine reported.

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