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Smoking in the workplace has become a thing of the past for most companies. Changes in smoking regulations have taken us from smoking in the job interview to only in individual rooms and now only outside a 5m radius of the door (or ventilation system). Have we gone far enough? Or can we go farther?

December 30, 2019 U-Haul announced that it will reject applicants in 21 US states who use nicotine, effective February 1, 2020. It is part of the companies “Healthier You” program that supports employees in wellness: health, mindset, nutrition and fitness.  They have even stated that in states that allow it, applicants will also be subjected to a nicotine screening-similar to the Drug & Alcohol screening many Albertan’s participate in.

Many companies claim they have smoke free environments, but a quick ride in any one of their company vehicles would prove otherwise. Company vehicles are supposed to be smoke-free as they are considered to be a workplace, but most look the other way on this behaviour. Walk onto any construction site, and you will see workers smoking in equipment, while walking around the site or off to the side, but not 5m away from colleagues.

Have they gone too far? Or is this simply the next step in the journey that smoking and nicotine have been on for the past 30 years when smoking started to be frowned upon. As a non-smoker I, of course, applaud the move and would be happy to work in an environment where I do not need to walk through a cloud of smoke to get in the door, nor would I need to work close to colleagues who bring the smell of cigarettes with them into the office on their clothing and smell of tobacco their entire shift.

Will other companies follow the lead of U-Haul? Would your company consider implementing a similar screening tool? What are your personal thoughts?



Originally posted January 3, 2020

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