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‘Smoker’s Bill Of Rights’ Could Be Repealed Next Session

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is proposing to repeal legislation that protects smokers from employment discrimination because of healthcare costs.

cigarette

Photo: Raul Lieberwirth (Flickr)

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce wants to repeal legislation that protects smokers from job discrimination.

Habitual cigarette smokers could face backlash from potential employers if the Indiana Chamber achieves one of its goals for the upcoming session.

The Chamber is seeking repeal of Indiana’s 1991 “smoker’s bill of rights” which says employers can’t refuse to hire smokers and can’t charge them higher premiums for health insurance.

Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar says the law went too far in its protection of smokers.

“Right now smoking is just as much of a protected class for hiring purposes in Indiana as race, religion, and all of the things that fell under the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Brinegar said.

Indiana has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation, and Brinegar says that‘s directly responsible for some of the highest health insurance costs in the U.S.  Brinegar says those premiums are costing Indiana jobs. He says he’s heard from several many out of state employers who have balked at expanding their Indiana plants because of those costs.

Hoosier employers can and do offer programs to help smokers kick the habit, but Brinegar says they need to be able to address the issue directly.

Network Indiana

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  • AudreySilk

    Right, and putting people on the dole saves you money…. how? When the anti-smokers have themselves turned smokers into a de facto class then you’re darn right that they need the same protection as race, religion. It’s prejudice that made those certain groups part of the federally recognized protected class. Don’t tell me this attack on people who choose to indulge in a LEGAL product aren’t being singled out and targeted for the same kind of discrimination. It make no never mind if one is immutable and the other is not. That someone is threatened (e.g. firing/not hiring) for a lifestyle choice that is legal — quit or lose — is an absolute infringement on their freedom due to the way they choose to live.

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