Fort Worth Considers Tobacco-Free Hiring Initiative - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Fort Worth Considers Tobacco-Free Hiring Initiative

Proposal has some city workers fuming



    Fort Worth is looking to adopt a new policy that would mean hiring only non-smokers, it could save taxpayers money, but some say the measure is extreme. (Published Tuesday, April 17, 2012)

    The city of Fort Worth is considering a cost-cutting idea, hiring only non-smokers.

    "We put taxpayers dollars into health care for our employees," Mayor Betsy Price said. "Anything that might benefit the health and wealth, make our employees more productive and healthy we're going to take a look at."

    A city employee proposed the idea, but some fellow colleagues are fuming.

    "I kind of see it as a form of discrimination, because as long as you're not smoking at the job and it doesn't affect your job, I kind of think it as unfair to choose," said Irene Jasoni, a city employee.

    Puffing away adds up over time for employers across the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking and secondhand smoke cost $193 billion in health bills and lost productivity every year.

    In North Texas, tobacco-free hiring initiatives are already in place at the Baylor Health Care System.

    Angela Gatewood, a smoker and future city job seeker, said she is worried the idea could become policy.

    "The simple fact that they smoke is not at a reason for them to keep someone from working for them," she said.

    Some smokers, such as Jerry Stemmons, said a new rule would not change their ways.

    "I am so late in my career, I don't care," he said.

    There are several hurdles involving the city's legal and human resources departments that must be crossed before the proposal could be implemented.