Employer Quits Its Smoking-Penalty Policy

Off-duty conduct, especially smoking and tobacco use, are often regulated by employers who complain of increasing health-care costs. But not every employer believes that workplace regulations on employee’s off-duty conduct is an appropriate solution.

Health Care Premiums for Smokers

The Tribune Company, which owns the Chicago Tribune, came under new ownership in December. Sam Zell, the new chairman and chief executive, recently revoked the company’s $100-per-month smoker’s penalty. The penalty, says the new owner, “is inconsistent with the new culture.”

The CAO and Executive VP, Gerry Spector, told employees in an e-mail, “We’d rather you use your own judgment when it comes to tobacco use, not impose ours upon you.”

The company will continue to offer smoking-cessation programs to employees at no cost but will reimburse those employees who had been subject to the penalty.

This certainly a different approach to the way most employers are treating smokers these days. Is this an indication that employers may move towards positive reinforcement instead of penalties to reduce the cost of health insurance?

The relationship between smoking and employability is a familiar topic on this blog. To visit some of our previous posts on the issue, click here.

More on the story can be found at the Chicago Tribune’s website.

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