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It's great that the Arizona-based U-Haul company cares about the well-being of its more than 30,000 employees. It's commendable that it has adopted programs and offered benefits to promote their nutrition, fitness and overall health. But its newest "wellness" policy for employees goes way beyond the promotion of good health and into the land of creepy intrusion.

Starting Feb. 1, the company says it will no longer hire people who use nicotine, or at least that it will do so in the 21 states where it is legal to have such a policy, which does not, thankfully, include California.

U-Haul executive Jessica Lopez told the Arizona Republic that health of the workforce is the paramount reason for the policy, and that any decrease in health care costs for the company is a "bonus." Well, perhaps. But if the company's goal were simply to improve the health of employees, wouldn't it make more sense to require nicotine users, whether they're new ones or old ones, to participate in nicotine cessation programs? Simply barring people from working at the company doesn't actually improve anyone's health.

We're skeptical that this policy will prompt job seekers to quit smoking, which is notoriously difficult.

And while we can see the actuarial appeal of such a move--tobacco use is a known health hazard that comes with productivity and health care costs--smoking is also a legal activity. It is mean-spirited to discriminate against people who are suffering from an addiction.

U-Haul should revoke this discriminatory policy and go back to promoting its workers' health in a positive manner.

Editorial on 01/10/2020

Print Headline: Creepy anti-nicotine policy


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