- U-Haul International will reject applicants in 21 states who use nicotine, aiming to maintain a healthful work environment, the company announced Dec. 30. According to the company, the policy takes effect Feb. 1 but won't impact current nicotine-using staff members.
- Job seekers in affected states will see U-Haul's nicotine-free policy in statements on application forms and will undergo questioning about nicotine use. In states where it is legal, applicants also will be subjected to nicotine screening, said the company.
- In other health-related benefits, U-Haul said its "Healthier You" program helps employees in four areas of wellness: health, mindset, nutrition and fitness. "We are deeply invested in the well-being of our Team Members," U-Haul Chief of Staff Jessica Lopez said in a media release. "Nicotine products are addictive and pose a variety of serious health risks. 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."
Employers are increasingly prioritizing employee well-being, according to an October LifeWorks survey. One of the 25 CEOs polled remarked that employee health and well-being are no longer just HR priorities, but are among company heads' major concerns. And while CEOs see the value of well-being programs in retention, higher productivity and lower healthcare costs, workers in a separate survey from the National Business Group on Health said they want employers' help with personal- and work-related problems.
It appears tobacco-free policies may be something of a trend. The city of Dayton, Ohio, announced it would become a tobacco-free employer in August, according to a CNN report. "It is the policy of the City to provide a safe, healthy, smoke-free and tobacco-free work environment for all employees and citizens visiting our facilities," Dayton's policy reads. The change did not arrive without pushback — the Dayton Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 44, which participated in drafting the policy, said it may violate union contracts and affect active members, CNN reported.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about $170 billion is spent annually on healthcare for adults due to the consequences of smoking. Smoking and second-hand smoking reportedly costs more than $156 billion a year in lost productivity.
Of course, nicotine use is not limited to cigarette smoking. Employers are clamping down on vaping because of the health risks it presents, Jason Habinsky, a partner in Haynes and Boone, previously told HR Dive. Although vaping and e-cigarettes are marketed as safer than cigarettes, they're still linked to health problems such as lung disease, another source told HR Dive.