At U-Haul, leaders say the decision was about health. Companies with such policies can also see decreased health insurance costs. Some businesses that hire smokers make them pay more for health insurance.
“We are deeply invested in the well-being of our Team Members,” Jessica Lopez, U-Haul chief of staff, said in a written statement. “Nicotine products are addictive and pose a variety of serious health risks. This policy is a responsible step in fostering a culture of wellness at U-Haul, with the goal of helping our Team Members on their health journey.”
A U-Haul truck sits in front of a U-Haul store.
Credit: Tim Boyle
Credit: Tim Boyle
A company spokesman was unable Thursday to provide a total number of employees U-Haul has in Georgia. The company employs 30,000 people in the U.S. and Canada.
Other companies beat U-Haul to the punch. Way back in 1986, Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting became one of the country’s first big employers to stop hiring smokers. Lockheed Martin in Marietta also stopped hiring smokers in 1994.
But the rules can only be enforced in 21 states. Three decades ago, 29 states and the District of Columbia responded to bans like Turner's by passing laws that prohibit discrimination against smokers. The laws had strong backing from tobacco lobbyists and the American Civil Liberties Union at the time, according to The New York Times. Workers rights groups have also called banning smoking a "slippery slope" that could lead to policing other lawful behavior by employees, such as drinking.
These states allow bans on hiring smokers: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington