Exploration of Smokism

Topics: Discrimination, Smoking ban, Ethics Pages: 7 (2308 words) Published: April 23, 2013
Smokers Beware

1. Introduction

This report focuses on the question what role does business have in amplifying discrimination against smokers. The multifaceted nature of bussiness, society and government is imbedded throughout this report and is used as a somewhat guiding structure. The first section of this report is a literature review which delves into the ideals, perceptions and attitudes of discrimination whilst leaving the focal point centered around smokers. Secondly, this report comprises of a critical review of this subject with reference to Benelec Pty Ltd. This is then followed by an examination of the question and responses to it in accordance to how business society and government operate.

2. Literature review

Within literature a range of definitions, theories and standpoints on discrimination exist, however, there is no such plethora of work on that of discrimination towards smokers. Subsequently, this report will use literature on discrimination and adapt it towards that of smoking. Due to the multifaceted nature of discrimination different academics represent the topic in dissimilar ways. Subsequently, the range of perspectives need to be addressed in order to understand when in fact discrimination against smokers is morally and legally right and when it is in fact wrong. Halldenius (2005) states that a person is discriminated against if in fact they are treated in a less favourable way due to qualities that he or she has opposed to others. From this viewpoint we can assess that discrimination is essentially a matter of interpersonal comparison. Furthermore, in a sense discrimination is a morally neutral concept, as everyone does it on a day to day basis (Halldenius, 2005).Taking this stance, which is a somewhat indifferent view, it proposes a good definition in establishing a middle ground within the realm of this topic.

Halldenius (2005) proposes that context plays a major role in ascertaining when in fact discrimination is wrong. She offers an example which emphasis her point; Sara is not given a job as a bus driver because she is a women and Sara is not given the job for a male therapist support group. Suggesting, that when ones qualities are irrelevant to ones ability the wrongdoing occurs. Thus, from this stance we can ascertain that discriminating against someone who smokes is only wrong when this as a quality is irrelevant to ones ability to effectively do the job. For this report we will use the word smokism to represent discrimination against employees who smoke. So the question is then proposed when does smoking hinder ones ability as an employee and when does smokism occur? Within Australia companies recently have began to state within job searches that smokers need not apply. This is not a new prerequisite and in the United states there are currently 6,000 companies who follow this ban on hiring smoker (Gurchiek, 2005; Pickney, 2005). As Australia begins to move towards this direction the moral questions do begin to surface; Is the hiring of only nonsmokers a just or unjust practice? Do smokers have any rights and if so what are they? Is this just another form of discrimination? (Lecker, 2008). It has been found that smokers have a greater rate of absenteeism, higher accident rate, decreased productivity such as extra break time, and costs associated creating and maintaining designated smoking areas (Paul and Townsend, 1998; Hennesy, 2006). Furthermore, it was found that on average 40-hour week, smoke breaks within a company collectively leads to 1,817 lost hours per year (Drake, 2005). Before it was suggested that rightful discrimination occurs when a quality of an employee affects efficiency and according to these findings in many ways smoking does. But from this viewpoint qualities like obesity, mentally disabled or an elderly employee would on occasion, and by context, hinder efficiency – so why does business and society deem some forms of discrimination morally...
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