Sarasota County: Smokers Need Not Apply
Sarasota County, Florida, has made the decision that it will no longer hire smokers.
Citing the burden they place on taxpayers who pay for government workers’ health insurance, Sarasota County officials announced Monday that they no longer will hire smokers.
Sarasota County Administrator Jim Ley said the hiring ban came out of “a five- or six-year strategy to produce a healthier work force and manage our long-term health care costs.”
The county currently pays about $31 million annually in health benefits for 3,600 employees, or $8,600 per worker.
Ley said not hiring smokers should help limit the annual growth in health care costs, the most expensive perk offered to county employees.
Let me just say that I don’t think that this is legitimate. Government agencies should not be allowed to impose a ban on hiring qualified individuals based on their engagement in legal activities, no matter how ill-advised.
That said, I doubt the courts will back me up, nor will, in all likelihood, lawmakers.
So, for those of you who might have a few extra pounds on you, or like to go skydiving or ride your motorcycle around: Enjoy it while you have a job! After all, once we’ve allowed one legal, but unhealthy activity to be grounds for not hiring someone, there’s really no principles left to argue against not hiring someone else because they engage in other legal, but unhealthy activities. It’s now fair game to control the behavior of government employees so long as we’re “saving taxpayer money.”