TOLEDO (AP) — The mayor of one of Ohio’s largest cities wants to stop hiring people who use tobacco and nicotine.
Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins said the plan isn’t a political maneuver but a change that could save money on health care costs for the city, which is self-insured, The Blade newspaper reported.
“This is good public policy, and it’s not driven by anything political,” he said.
He said the administrative policy will be written this month and wouldn’t affect current city employees. He noted that some private-sector employers, including the Toledo casino and the Cleveland Clinic, have similar bans for new workers.
“I understand the need,” said city council President Paula Hicks-Hudson, a self-described “recovering smoker.”
Some city council members expressed hesitation about the proposal. Councilman Jack Ford said he supports a smoking ban but thinks not hiring smokers could unnecessarily eliminate potential job applicants.
“It would be better to give them the chance to get into a cessation program and work with them,” he said. “We would probably lose, in certain fields, some significant talent.”
Councilwoman Sandy Spang questioned how much money might be saved and whether there would be unintended consequences.
A spokesman for the parent company of tobacco giant Philip Morris USA said the mayor’s proposal unfairly singles out a group of employees using a legal product.
“Many others share our perspective that not hiring smokers or terminating employees on the basis of whether they are smokers, or have nicotine in their system goes too far,” Altria spokesman David Sutton said.