Warning: Smoking May Cost You A Job - WSPA.com

Warning: Smoking May Cost You A Job

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Sen. Bryant's bill would allow employers to fire tobacco-users. Sen. Bryant's bill would allow employers to fire tobacco-users.
SOUTH CAROLINA -

Tobacco-users have steadily been pushed away from bars, restaurants, parks and even college campuses.

Now, some companies want to get rid of smokers in the workplace. But it's against the law in South Carolina, as well as in 28 other states that ban discrimination against tobacco-users.

"It is not government's role to tell a business owner how they operate their business and how they spend their money," said Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson.

That protection for smoker could soon be repealed if Bryant's measure is passed.

The lawmaker believes companies should be able to hire or fire workers that use tobacco products off-the-clock.

Smoking is the only factor employers can't use when determining personnel action, according to Bryant.

"If somebody is smoking on their own time or during lunch breaks, I really don't see how that is relevant to the work that their doing," says Jamie Gilbert who's opposes the bill.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that smokers cost employers nearly $200 billion each year in medical costs and lost productivity.

"I feel like if I own the business, I have that right to hire whoever I want to," adds Spartanburg resident Scotty Todd.

Critics of the bill also say it intrudes into the private lifestyle choices of employees.

"I am not trying to violate anybody's privacy," says Bryant. "I am trying to remove a barrier that government has on a business owner."

The bill is scheduled to go before the Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry subcommittee this week.

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