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U-Haul Says It Will No Longer Hire Nicotine Users In 21 States

Ryan Ford 2 Jan 2020

Nicotine users in search of employment can save themselves some time by just not applying to U-Haul, according to a new policy the company announced.

In a press release, U-Haul said its nicotine-free hiring policy will go into effect in 21 states starting February 1.

The Phoenix-based moving and storage company says it's all part of a push to give it "one of the healthiest corporate cultures in the U.S. and Canada."

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U-Haul, which employs more than 30,000, said that those already working for the company won't be affected by the nicotine-free policy, but that the wellness of workers will still be front-and-center.

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"We are deeply invested in the well-being of our Team Members," U-Haul's chief of staff, Jessica Lopez, stated.

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"Nicotine products are addictive and pose a variety of serious health risks," she continued. "This policy is a responsible step in fostering a culture of wellness at U-Haul, with the goal of helping our Team Members on their health journey."

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In states where it's allowed, applicants will have to submit to testing for nicotine use during the process.

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The 21 states where U-Haul's nicotine-free hiring policy will in effect are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

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Although U-Haul may be trying to promote healthy practices among its workers, experts are suggesting the company pump the brakes on its nicotine-free hiring policy.

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Boston University's Dr. Michael Siegel told ABC News that U-Haul's policy is "terribly misguided" and "hardly a progressive public health policy."

"In public health, we try to encourage people to engage in healthy behavior, but we do not punish them and stigmatize them when they don't," he said. "It punishes exactly the people who should be rewarded for having accomplished this difficult feat."

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Dr Siegel cautioned that a nicotine-free hiring policy might have some unintended consequences.

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For one, it opens the door to discrimination.

"This sets a terrible precedent because it means that employers can discriminate against any group of people they want, such as obese people," he said. "The exact reasoning that U-Haul is citing in promoting this policy would also justify refusing to hire people who are obese, or people who use legal marijuana, or any number of other health behaviors."

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Dr Siegel also noted that "nicotine users" encompasses a broad swath of people.

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And some of them might be the type that U-Haul would otherwise want to help. "This eliminates anyone who has quit smoking and is staying off smoking by using nicotine patches or gum or electronic cigarettes," he said.

He added that the "worst aspect of this policy is that it punishes ex-smokers who have quit using electronic cigarettes or any type of nicotine replacement therapy."

h/t: ABC News

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