Cost of Smoking Goes Up for Retail Workers
By George Anderson
The high cost of smoking cigarettes is about to go even higher as employers such as Meijer begin adding an extra charge to healthcare premiums for those who choose to keep rather than kick the habit.
Beginning next year, Meijer will begin taking an additional $25 a month from the paychecks of employees who smoke. Smokers who participate in a company-sponsored program to quit will not be charged.
“Smoking is a health hazard, and this is one way to encourage a healthy lifestyle,” Judith Clark, spokesperson for Meijer told The Detroit News. “We look at it as an incentive.”
Meijer is using the honor system to determine employees who smoke.
“The company’s not going to be a watchdog,” said Ms. Clark.
While many agree that it makes sense for employers to charge smokers more for healthcare premiums, it raises the question of how far companies can go in monitoring the personal habits of its workers.
Byron Grays, a flight attendant with Northwest (the airline also adds a surcharge for employees who smoke), said, “I have a big problem with that. We’re being treated differently from other employees. If you apply the same logic to smokers, where does it stop? Why can’t I request that those employees pay more that are obese or heavy drinkers?”
Moderator’s Comment: How much control should an employer have over the health habits of its workers? –
George Anderson – Moderator