'Are you a smoker?' cruise line asks prospective employee
Thursday, September 12, 2013 at 9:00
Simon Clark

Fourteen years ago Forest highlighted a disturbing trend.

Smokers are being blatantly undermined at work and often denied positions for which they are well qualified, according to a new report.

Information published yesterday by Forest, a pressure group for smokers' rights, claims job advertisements with a strong anti-smoking slant are becoming the norm ...

The Forest report highlights what it calls blatant discrimination in a document entitled Smoking: The New Apartheid. The unfair treatment mentioned includes blanket bans on smoking, forcing smokers to accept reduced pay or longer working hours and sacking workers allegedly caught having a cigarette at work.

A study of more than 300 job advertisements also revealed a new trend of discrimination clearly designed to harm smokers' employment prospects, in extreme cases even stating that only non-smokers should apply.

Full report: Job hopes go up in smoke Forest says discrimination in the job market amounts to a new form of apartheid (The Herald, November 8, 1999).

Thankfully, having identified and publicised the problem we appeared to have nipped it in the bud which made stories such as this – Worker gets the sack for smoking at home – all the more shocking.

Yesterday, however, we were contacted by someone whose wife applied for a job on board a cruise ship.

As I understand it, she had worked on cruise ships before, hence her surprise when the application form invited her to state whether she was a smoker.

Well, she ticked the box marked 'yes' and you can guess the rest. She didn't get the job and the reason given was that the ship has just introduced a no-smoking policy.

As her husband said, a great many smokers are perfectly capable of adhering to no-smoking policies if necessary, but his wife wasn't given the opportunity.

The cruise line made an assumption based on an honest answer to the question 'Are you a smoker?' and discriminated accordingly.

Oddly enough, this was my response to the Worker gets the sack for smoking at home story:

Simon Clark, of the smokers' rights pressure group Forest, said: "If smokers are willing to accept a company's non-smoking policy, it is absolutely disgraceful that they should be denied employment."

More interesting perhaps is the response from ASH whose director in 2001 was a certain Clive Bates.

According to Clive, who is currently an outspoken advocate of e-cigarettes:

"One might consider it a bit extreme, but if it's their policy not to employ smokers, then that's their choice."

Perhaps, but I wonder what Clive's reaction would be if the same thing happened to an e-cigarette user today. Would he say:

"One might consider it a bit extreme, but if it's their policy not to employ vapers, then that's their choice."

People should be employed on their ability to do the job, not on whether they smoke, vape or drink a bottle of wine every night.

Article originally appeared on Simon Clark (http://taking-liberties.squarespace.com/).
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