Smoking is the main cause of preventable deaths in the United States. As of 2008, cigarettes had contributed to more than 12 million deaths in the past 40 years in the United States alone. Currently, they result in 438,000 deaths and a health and economic loss of more than $167 billion annually (Graff 2). Smoking not only injures the body of the smoker, but it also inflicts serious damage on those exposed to cigarette smoke. In fact, second-hand smoke is believed to kill 50,000 individuals in the United States each year (Graff 2). Given the severe health repercussions that cigarettes have on smokers and nonsmokers, and the healthcare and economic cost that it places in the country, both the government and private institutions have a duty of preventing its use.
Ford Meter Co does not allow its workers to smoke in or out of work so that it can reduce its healthcare insurance cost and ensure all its employees are fully engaged in their work until their retirement. The inability of workers to fully participate in their work activities due to health care problems caused by tobacco makes smoking a job relevant activity. In practice, employees have an obligation of ensuring they will be fit to work during their employment contract period. Consequently, they should avoid substances such as tobacco and other drugs, which may affect their health and subsequently minimize their ability to work (Bernhard 89). Similarly, employers have a duty of providing their employees with a conducive work environment. Therefore, enterprises must protect their workers from second-hand smoke.
Ford Meter Co. routine analysis tests for traces of nicotine in its workers was a reasonable enforcement method. For the firm to be fair in the enforcement of its regulation, it had to use an objective and non-discriminatory means of verifying if its employee’s smoked. The analysis tests were objective since they relied on scientific reports. The policy was non-discriminatory since the tests were done on all the workers. In fact, other alternative methods would depend on allegations, which would be a violation of employees’ right to fair treatment.
For fairness, the government should be involved in the individual bargaining between employees and employers. Given that states have a duty of ensuring all their citizens’ are treated equally and provided with similar employment opportunities, they are suitable arbitrators for employees. In this case, they would establish that employers’ regulations requiring workers not to smoke do not violate the latter’ rights (Dessler, 101). Furthermore, they would regulate the implementation of this law to establish that it is justifiable.
Ford Meter Co. policy of firing a present employee for smoking was unjustified. Given that this regulation did not exist during the initial hiring of the worker, it was illegal for the company to force some of its current employees to comply with the rule. In fact, some of them may not have applied for employment in the firm if such a law had been present at the time of their recruitment. On the other hand, Lockheed is justified in refusing to hire smokers while retaining current workers who smoke. The firm’s strategy respects their existing employees’ terms of contract, which do not prevent them from smoking. However, since the new terms prohibit new workers from smoking, the company must ensure that all recruits do not smoke. Finally, Texas and U-Haul additional conditions on employees who smoke are unjustified. These regulations violate the employees’ terms of contract, which is illegal. Additionally, the companies workers did not consent to the implementation of these regulations.
Although the regulation of smoking at work or in private is necessary for both workers and employees, their implementation should be just. In particular, the former must respect the terms of employment, which they signed with the latter. Additionally, the government should be involved in this process to ensure the new rules are fair to both workers and businesses.
Bernhard, David. Cigarette Smoke Toxicity: Linking Individual Chemicals to Human Diseases. 1st ed., Wiley-VCH, 2011.
Dessler, Gary. Human Resource Management. 15th ed., Pearson, 2016.
Graff, Samantha. “There is No Constitutional Right to Smoke: 2008.” Public Health Law Center, March 2008, www.publichealthlawcenter.org/sites/default/files/resources/tclc-syn-constitution-2008.pdf. Accessed 21 October 2017.