But employing nonsmokers can save over $12,000 per worker, and each and every year smoking will cost the American economy more than twice what Obamacare costs over a ten year period, notes professor John Banzhaf of George Washington University.
The American Health Policy Institute, which conducted the confidential survey, concludes that "employers will have to make real changes or incur heavy costs."
One such real change could be replacing smoking workers with nonsmoking workers, a simple move which has been shown in an actual court proceeding to save more than $12,000 per employee, says Banzhaf, who has been called "Mr. Anti-Smoking,"
Companies may not be able to avoid the huge costs being imposed on them by the Affordable Care Act [ACA], but they can help mitigate these new added expenses by giving preference in hiring to nonsmokers, or joining the growing number of companies which openly - or otherwise - have simply stopped hiring smokers, suggests Banzhaf.
For every nonsmoker who is hired, a company can save twice as much as the per-employee costs imposed by Obamacare, he argues.
Consider a typical factory where smokers make up 20% of the workforce. If the average added cost imposed by Obamacare is $5,000/worker, the total annual cost to the company is $500,000. But this can almost be cut in half if each smoking employee is replaced by a nonsmoker, at a saving of $12,000/worker, or some $240,000 annually.
Fortunately, refusing to hire smokers is completely legal in almost half the states.
Although other states have so-called smokers’ rights laws, these laws are full of loopholes and very easy to avoid, says the American Medical Association [AMA] as well as Banzhaf, who has counseled companies on how to do it.
For example, simply banning smoking anywhere on the property, and requiring workers to be free from any noticeable smell of tobacco smoke, is perfectly legal in all states, suggests Banzhaf, even though any worker who smokes a cigarette would then have to shower and shampoo and change his clothing, something very few workers are prepared to do just to obtain a job.
JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
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