Nonsmoking and Nonobesity Hiring Policies and Practices: A Comparative Analysis

  •  Wendell C. Taylor    


Background: There is a dearth of literature related to nonobesity-only hiring policies. Addressing this significant gap in our knowledge base would enable a better understanding of the consequences of implementing nonobesity-only hiring policies. Methods: This paper analyzed both nonobesity-only and nonsmoking-only hiring policies according to ten criteria. The ten criteria selected were based on earlier literature reviews and frameworks for analyzing nonsmoking hiring policies and practices. Findings: The similarities between nonsmoking-only and nonobesity-only hiring policies were in the prevalence and incidence of smoking and obesity, exacerbating social inequalities, privacy and discrimination, addictive properties, increasing healthcare costs and insurance premiums, and loss of productivity. The differences between the two were in hiring policy documentation, legal protection, promoting a healthy institutional image, and health consequences in the workforce. Conclusions: The most dramatic difference was that second-hand and third-hand smoke have harmful effects on nonsmoking employees (whereas obesity has no such effect on others) and that legal protection is lacking for individuals who are obese (whereas some legal protection does exist for smokers). As organizations consider implementing restrictive hiring policies and practices, considering the ten criteria offered in this paper can inform the decision-making process.

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