The inset on the right shows the new policy statement from UMiss: “Employees...must certify that they do not and will not use nicotine products during their employment...both on and off duty.”
The employers plan on testing for nicotine during the interview process for the 161 positions they have open. Applicants for positions who admit to using nicotine will be given quit advice and asked to reapply after three months.
Mary Jenkins, spokeswoman for MU Health Care, reportedly said: “If we suspect that an employee who is hired after the implementation of this policy goes into effect is using nicotine products, we will follow our normal disciplinary process.”
The disciplinary process includes ad-hoc drug screenings, written warnings, and termination of employment if nicotine use is continued.
The full list of items banned from use includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, snuff, clove cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and similar products. The position is justified by the University as being part of a gradual shift to wellness and prevention.
The news drew instant anger from vapers and civil liberties organisations. Dan Viets, president of the Missouri Civil Liberties Association, is quoted as saying, “[I’d] hate to see any employer assume that he or she has the right to control their employees’ behaviour 24/7.”
Questions were raised on social media if this action opens to the door to further inroads on personal lifestyles. Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, said to the New York Times: “The number of things that we all do privately that have negative impact on our health is endless. If it’s not smoking, it’s beer. If it’s not beer, it’s cheeseburgers. And what about your sex life?”
Using the broad-brush approach of amalgamating all nicotine products together makes little sense when viewed against recent findings by the likes of Professor Robert West and Doctor Konstantinos Farsalinos.
As carried in this week’s Guardian newspaper, West states that vaping carries a tiny fraction of the dangers from smoking and that there’s no reason to believe ecigs pose any threat to bystanders.