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Smoking Ban at work Health

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#1 mjtian

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Posted 30 October 2005 - 10:22 PM

After watching tonight's  60 Minutes, I found this story to be very interesting.

It is obviously more of an economic concern rather than the actual "care" with regard to the employee's health.  Afterall, if the employees quit smoking that will lower the health insurance premiums that the employers have to pay.  The #1 cause of death in America is heart disease and smoking is a major contributor to this problem.

People can argue that this perhaps is too invasive, employers shouldn't control our life style, this is like "communism".  Sure, these are valid points.  Thats why I prefer what some of the companies that implements positive feedback.  Such as offering bonuses to those employees that volunteers to abide to the rules.  I think firing someone may be a little extreme.  But the programs that encourages healthy behavior can be rewading for both the employee and the employer.

Edited by mjtian, 30 October 2005 - 10:22 PM.

"I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot... and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why... I succeed" -Michael Jordan

#2 Nick

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Posted 30 October 2005 - 11:57 PM

Meh.  I've always thought the "insurance premiums" argument was a weak one.  Car insurance premiums are decided by outrageously elaborate equations and various risk factors, health insurance is much the same except the employer is paying part of those costs.  Telling employees they can't smoke on the job is one thing--but what they do off the clock is their own business, IMHO.

I'd rather see policies that simply say "no smoking on the company dime" and "the company only covers x percent of your insurance premiums up to a cap of x dollars."  You smoke, your choice, you pay the difference.  (I'm not an HR expert, but if it's anything like car insurance premiums, the various discounts for being a "good student' or "safe driver" and whatnot are pittances.

If it doesn't happen during "paid time" and doesn't affect paid time later . . . do as you will, IMHO.

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#3 Broph

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 07:26 AM

But this is an example of when an employee's off-clock behavior can and does affect his on-clock availability and behavior. Although it does take time for smoking to catch up with people, the health-related costs can be astronomical.

And what about those smoking breaks that people insist on taking. You always see the same people outside certain buildings as you walk past. If I take an elevator between floors, I see some people who I know to be smokers and the elevator is reeking of smoke. Do I insist on 4 paid breaks a day to go out for fresh air? No, but smokers seem to think that it's a right.

When I worked at an ad agency, I was low man on the totem pole. I would actually have to cover for the receptionist (along with one other person) for her (our receptionists just happened to be women, including temps) breaks. Most of the time it was fine, but we had one temp who was a smoker. I was in the middle of something important, sending out a fax to someone - and the fax machine was in the reception area. As soon as I walked out there she said "good, I've been dying for a smoke" and just rushed out without another word, leaving me hanging for 15 minutes! I'd have to say that my work was more important than her smoking, but she wouldn't see it that way.

#4 Kosh

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 12:33 PM

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Really obese people, whose healthcare is among the costliest, are protected by federal law. But thousands of companies and countless municipal governments and police departments refuse to hire smokers, and some require affidavits, and even use lie detector tests to enforce the policy.

I think it's only a matter of time before federal law is changed, and Obese people have to take responcibility fopr them selves, as will smokers. I used to not have to pay for insurence, but I do now, and it's been raised twice of late. Plus we have to sign an affidavid that we don't smoke or use smokeless. Saves 5 bucks on the premiums.
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#5 Lin731

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 01:54 PM

It's really sad to see Americans turn on each other...Let's condone discriminatory and punitive measures against group X and Y (because WE'RE not in the group) but you know what? Once you start allowing for these kinds of sanctions against group X and Y, it's not long before these measures expand to other groups and other behaviors. Where does it stop? Is it okay as long as it isn't you and when it IS you, then what? It's too late because it's already happening. Fat people and smokers, THEY'RE expensive so let's nail em for it...Eventually though it filters down...So you're not fat but your cholestrol's high and you're at risk of a heart attack and THAT'S expensive you better start eating healthy or you're outta here btw...sign this form so we can monitor your dietary habits and a waiver stating we can fire you if it doesn't improve. You're a diabetic...sorry, we're not hiring diabetics, they're too expensive. Parkinson's runs in your family, Huntingtons...sorry about your luck, those are expensive too and we only wanna cover people that don't need healthcare.
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#6 Kosh

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 03:59 PM

My family has benifitted from Government covering health care, so I really can't talk.
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#7 enTranced

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 04:02 PM

Lin731, on Oct 31 2005, 06:54 PM, said:

It's really sad to see Americans turn on each other...Let's condone discriminatory and punitive measures against group X and Y (because WE'RE not in the group) but you know what? Once you start allowing for these kinds of sanctions against group X and Y, it's not long before these measures expand to other groups and other behaviors. Where does it stop? Is it okay as long as it isn't you and when it IS you, then what? It's too late because it's already happening. Fat people and smokers, THEY'RE expensive so let's nail em for it...Eventually though it filters down...So you're not fat but your cholestrol's high and you're at risk of a heart attack and THAT'S expensive you better start eating healthy or you're outta here btw...sign this form so we can monitor your dietary habits and a waiver stating we can fire you if it doesn't improve. You're a diabetic...sorry, we're not hiring diabetics, they're too expensive. Parkinson's runs in your family, Huntingtons...sorry about your luck, those are expensive too and we only wanna cover people that don't need healthcare.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


^ And that is the bottom line folks. THIS is where it will end.

Don't think this will happen? Folks this is captitalism. Corporations can and will and DO make decisions based on MONEY not human beings, there is always enough of them. All they need is a little opening and off they go. Sadly our current admisinistration is all to willing to allow corporations to find these loopholes that destroy lives.

enTranced

Edited by enTranced, 31 October 2005 - 04:03 PM.

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#8 Broph

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 04:25 PM

Lin731, on Oct 31 2005, 06:54 PM, said:

It's really sad to see Americans turn on each other...Let's condone discriminatory and punitive measures against group X and Y (because WE'RE not in the group) but you know what? Once you start allowing for these kinds of sanctions against group X and Y, it's not long before these measures expand to other groups and other behaviors. Where does it stop? Is it okay as long as it isn't you and when it IS you, then what? It's too late because it's already happening. Fat people and smokers, THEY'RE expensive so let's nail em for it...Eventually though it filters down...So you're not fat but your cholestrol's high and you're at risk of a heart attack and THAT'S expensive you better start eating healthy or you're outta here btw...sign this form so we can monitor your dietary habits and a waiver stating we can fire you if it doesn't improve. You're a diabetic...sorry, we're not hiring diabetics, they're too expensive. Parkinson's runs in your family, Huntingtons...sorry about your luck, those are expensive too and we only wanna cover people that don't need healthcare.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Let's take something like water and electricity. Let's say that at the end of the year, we add up all the water and electricity costs, divide by the number of users and send out the bill. The guy who washes his car every day, waters his lawn 24/7, takes 6 showers a day, washes each dish twice to make sure it's really clean, etc., and leaves every light burning all the time and the stereo blaring whether someone is home or not, pays the same as the guy who is conservative in usage.

Is that fair?

#9 Eskaminzim

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 07:10 PM

No, Broph, it's not fair, but it's not entirely a fair comparison.

Let's say that Company X has 10 employees, and one of those employees is a smoker.  She really wants to keep her job, so she quits smoking entirely.  Fine.

Another employee, we'll call him Albert, regularly drinks two six packs a night and is one step away from needing a new liver.  But the company only cares about smokers, not about alcoholics.  Albert has that last six pack, winds up in the hospital, has a liver transplant (one of the most expensive things there is), and everyone, including the ex smoker, is paying not only for the original transplant, but for the anti-rejection drugs in increased premiums, for as long as they continue to work for the company.

A third employee, Karen, drives way too fast.  She has more points on her license than Carter has liver pills.  But the company is only down on smokers, and so they don't care about Karen's problem with driving safely.  One day, she gets T-boned by a semi when going through a red light.  She's crushed, but alive, technically, though suffering from anoxic encephalopathy.  So all of the employees, including the now ex smoker, are not only paying for Albert and his drugs, but also Karen, her ICU stay, her multiple surgeries, and her Long Term Acute Stay in her coma--for as long as they work at the company.  Cause, like, only smokers are the problem.

A fourth employee, Mary, has a mother and two sisters who have died from breast cancer.  Should she be fired because the chances are very good that she'll wind up with it too, and die?  Should she have company mandated mammograms every three months?  When she's finally diagnosed, does the company have a say in what her treatment will be?

Then we have Tim, who is a vegetarian, a runner, perfect in every way, except that his cholesterol is 490 and he's a walking heart attack waiting to happen.  Does the company force him to take Lipitor so that their premiums won't be increased when he has that massive heart attack that's lurking there?

What about Joel who has sex with random partners and doesn't wear a condom?  He could come up with any one of a few dozen expensive venereal diseases, up to and including the extremely expensive AIDS.  Does the company have the right to check into how often he has sex on his own time, and demand that he wears a condom?

All of these things are extremely expensive to companies trying to keep up with the rising costs of health insurance.  Where does the intrusion into the private lives of their employees stop?

I know it's a slippery slope argument, but the slope was started when we added obesity to smoking.

#10 bakuninmeow

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 07:57 PM

With all due respect to everyone, there's quite another point to this story as well, and that is just how far employers are allowed to go in regulating the conduct, especially off-site, of their employees' lives.

The fact is that, unless you are a member of a labour union, or have a contract with your employer that specifically prohibits him or her from firing you without due cause, your employer can, and will, if it suits him or her, and there is nothing you can legally do about it.

Yes, you can't be fired anymore on racial, gender or physical conditional grounds, but that's really about it.

Otherwise, depending on which state in the Union in which you live, you can be fired very easily.

I live in Nevada, where that very assertion is an everyday reality.

Pardon the un-wanted advice here, but, if you can, be very, VERY choosy about for whom you choose to work.

Ask about wages, hours, benefits, and all that, but, if you can, please try to observe, if possible, how the other employees inter-act with each other and their supervisors, that sort of thing.

It mayn't be much that you'll get to see, but observe what you can, and balance what you see off against whatever the Human Resources personnel at the company to which you've applied are telling you.

If the discrepansies between those two are great, don't even think about working for such a firm.

Also, expect nothing in the way of loyalty from your bosses.

I know, it's very elementary advice, coming as it does in the context of such an aggressively capitalist country like the US.

But, remember that, at the end of the day, for all the prattle found in some companies about how they are a "family" and so on, you're really just a hired hand, nothing more.

When it comes right down to it, unless you are fortunate enough to find an employer who really does care about the lot of his or her employees, because it's both good business and good ethics, you are as dispensable to your employer as a Kleenex.

Good to have around when one's needed, but, once the sneezing and nose-wiping are done, best to dispose of it as soon as possible.

The best thing that a worker can do, aside from joining a union, or forming one if none exists, is to either go into business for oneself, or to protect oneself and one's family by remembering that the loyalty and gratitude of employers, like those of princes, prime ministers and presidents, can't be expected nor relied upon.


Cheers, D.

#11 Themis

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 09:04 PM

I have recently been reminded that in Tennessee, a company can fire you for anything and it's just too bad.  "Work at Will" I think it's called.  Such a backward state....

I'm totally against smoking.  I'm allergic to tobacco smoke.  But  if an employer can restrict smoking on free time, what else can they restrict?  Blood sugar level?  Cholesterol level?  Genetic presidsposition toward cancers?  Number of sexual partners?  Number of speeding tickets?  "Dangerous" hobbies like downhill ski racing??    Nope.  If the ACLU wants to take this trend on, I'm all for them.

And it's all part of the fact that employers pay for health insurance instead of there being a federal system.  If my taxes went up but I knew my health care were covered, I think I'd be ok with that....

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#12 mjtian

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 09:35 PM

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Another employee, we'll call him Albert, regularly drinks two six packs a night and is one step away from needing a new liver. But the company only cares about smokers, not about alcoholics.

Just a note on the Medicine aspect.  Lung Cancer is #1 cancer in both men and women (excluding skin).  It is related to somking.  Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the U.S. among a number of things, smoking is a major cause.  Alcoholism and liver diseases are much lower on the list.  So from an economic point of view, wiping out smokers saves insurers $$$ which saves employers $$$.

This is an inevitable trend as we live in a world that evoloves around capitalism.  If the worker does not like the ban, he/she can just quit or look for a job elsewhere.  As I have mentioned before, firing an individual may be too radical.  A Wellness program that offers positive feedback may be a much better option.


Quote

So all of the employees, including the now ex smoker, are not only paying for Albert and his drugs, but also Karen, her ICU stay, her multiple surgeries, and her Long Term Acute Stay in her coma--for as long as they work at the company. Cause, like, only smokers are the problem.

Insurance policies have celiings, when it is reached, you are dropped from the coverage.


Quote

A fourth employee, Mary, has a mother and two sisters who have died from breast cancer. Should she be fired because the chances are very good that she'll wind up with it too, and die? Should she have company mandated mammograms every three months? When she's finally diagnosed, does the company have a say in what her treatment will be?

Then we have Tim, who is a vegetarian, a runner, perfect in every way, except that his cholesterol is 490 and he's a walking heart attack waiting to happen. Does the company force him to take Lipitor so that their premiums won't be increased when he has that massive heart attack that's lurking there?

They are both insured so it is silly to not visit the physician yearly for a check up.  Again my proposal of a wellness program will help solve this problem.  Cholesterol of 490?  Wow, thats kind of high.  I would recheck the fasting lipid   :)


Quote

What about Joel who has sex with random partners and doesn't wear a condom? He could come up with any one of a few dozen expensive venereal diseases, up to and including the extremely expensive AIDS. Does the company have the right to check into how often he has sex on his own time, and demand that he wears a condom?

Another problem that can be solved with the wellness program.  As scary as AIDS is, most STD (Sexually transmitted diseases) are treatable with antibiotics.  I am in no way suggesting that unsafe sex is the way to go.  But the odds of contracting AIDS, especially if you are a male heterosexual is relatively low.

Edited by mjtian, 31 October 2005 - 09:44 PM.

"I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot... and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why... I succeed" -Michael Jordan

#13 Broph

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 09:56 PM

Eskaminzim, on Nov 1 2005, 12:10 AM, said:

No, Broph, it's not fair, but it's not entirely a fair comparison.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Actually, it's a very fair comparison. What is health insurance - $3,000 or so a year? What do they charge extra for being a smoker? Let's just say $300 a year - 10%. So in 10 years they pay an extra $3,000. If they're at the job 40 years, that's an extra $12,000 over the course of 40 years.

When my father was hospitalized once for a smoking-related illness, the charge to the insurance company was over $16,000. That was above and beyond the $500 per month for oxygen ($6,000 per year) and $250 per month for medication. And that was just one hospitalization!

So yes, it is a completely fair comparison. Smokers may get charged more for insurance, but what they take out of the system is often far in excess of what they put in.

#14 mjtian

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Posted 31 October 2005 - 10:41 PM

Another medical fact that supports smoking ban.  According to the latest issue, October 26, 2005, of Journal of American Mmedical Association, the latest study shown a clear relationship between smokers and second hand smokers.  The study invovled 35,000 adult nonsmokers that lived with one or more smokers.  The results showed that those subjects were more than twice as likely to develop chronic dry cough and other life long respiratory problems in adulthood compared to those who did not grow up living with smokers.

As we all know that medical insurance policies often include family members as well.  So this will not only affect the employees' health cost but also those of his or her family members.

Edited by mjtian, 31 October 2005 - 10:42 PM.

"I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot... and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why... I succeed" -Michael Jordan

#15 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 12:07 AM

Man it is SUCH a good thing that B**tard didn't say that sh*t to me! Because I would've blown smoke right in his face!

As for his stance on firing smokers...I would've welcomed it...then gone to the nearest lawyer I could find and filed a lawsuit! For discrimination. And, depending on how bad the man pissed me off, maybe sexual harrasment to boot...regardless of whether it wasn't true. It would've been up to him to prove that it wasn't, in court.
"Sometimes you get the point of the sword, sometimes the edge, sometimes the flat of the blade (even if you're the Lord of the Sword) and sometimes you're the guy wielding it. But any day without the Sword or its Lord is one that could've been better  " ~Orpheus.

The Left is inclusive, and tolerant, unless you happen to think and believe different than they do~ Lord of the Sword

Looks like the Liberal Elite of Exisle have finally managed to silence the last remaining Conservative voice on the board.

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#16 mjtian

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 12:29 AM

Quote

As for his stance on firing smokers...I would've welcomed it...then gone to the nearest lawyer I could find and filed a lawsuit! For discrimination.

Well, I think that is a little over board too.  But according to the report, there is little that employees can do in this incident.  There is very little protection for workers in the U.S.  I believe the report said there are only 3 or 5 States that has any laws that offers any sort of protection for the employees from getting fired.
"I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot... and missed. And I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why... I succeed" -Michael Jordan

#17 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 10:00 AM

mjtian, on Nov 1 2005, 12:29 AM, said:

Well, I think that is a little over board too.  But according to the report, there is little that employees can do in this incident.  There is very little protection for workers in the U.S.  I believe the report said there are only 3 or 5 States that has any laws that offers any sort of protection for the employees from getting fired.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


This is why Unions are a GOOD thing. Perhaps having a Union declare a strike at that work place, grinding their production/work to a halt would make this idiot realize his mistake.

And just because an employer CAN fire an employee does NOT make him, or her, exempt from having a civil case brought against them.
"Sometimes you get the point of the sword, sometimes the edge, sometimes the flat of the blade (even if you're the Lord of the Sword) and sometimes you're the guy wielding it. But any day without the Sword or its Lord is one that could've been better  " ~Orpheus.

The Left is inclusive, and tolerant, unless you happen to think and believe different than they do~ Lord of the Sword

Looks like the Liberal Elite of Exisle have finally managed to silence the last remaining Conservative voice on the board.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” ~Thomas Jefferson

#18 Broph

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 10:18 AM

^But the civil case will be groundless. It would be a waste of time.

#19 Lin731

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 10:26 AM

Quote

Let's take something like water and electricity. Let's say that at the end of the year, we add up all the water and electricity costs, divide by the number of users and send out the bill. The guy who washes his car every day, waters his lawn 24/7, takes 6 showers a day, washes each dish twice to make sure it's really clean, etc., and leaves every light burning all the time and the stereo blaring whether someone is home or not, pays the same as the guy who is conservative in usage.


Not a good comparison. We're not talking about how often you wash your car or how many lights you leave on in your house. We're talking about your JOB, the roof over your head, your ability to provide for your family. You seemed to miss the point entirely that once you allow for this singling out of groups. IT WON'T STOP THERE, it NEVER does. Maybe you're willing to allow an employer that kind of control over YOUR life but I'm not. They rent me for 8 hours a day, they don't OWN me. Do you really believe for a milisecond that if this were allowed it would really impact your insurance premiums? I surely don't, call me a cynic. Insurance companies, healthcare providers, drug companies all charge what they can get away with and they can get away with ALOT (they have a captive market don't they)? If the idea is to only offer insurance to the healthy, than let's just do away with insurance all together. Just be aware, what you're fine with having "done unto others" will eventually be "done unto YOU".
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#20 Lord of the Sword

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Posted 01 November 2005 - 10:29 AM

Broph, on Nov 1 2005, 10:18 AM, said:

^But the civil case will be groundless. It would be a waste of time.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Since when are cases involving discrimination pointless?
"Sometimes you get the point of the sword, sometimes the edge, sometimes the flat of the blade (even if you're the Lord of the Sword) and sometimes you're the guy wielding it. But any day without the Sword or its Lord is one that could've been better  " ~Orpheus.

The Left is inclusive, and tolerant, unless you happen to think and believe different than they do~ Lord of the Sword

Looks like the Liberal Elite of Exisle have finally managed to silence the last remaining Conservative voice on the board.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.” ~Thomas Jefferson



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