File photo by BLACK PRESS news services Smoke-free workplaces have helped to discourage tobacco use overall, says Les Hagen, executive director with Action on Smoking & Health. The nicotine-free hiring policy at U-Haul International, which employs 34,000 across the U.S. and Canada, will go into effect Feb. 1 in 21 states where the well-known truck and trailer rental company operates.

Hiring only nicotine-free workers unlikely to catch on

Awaiting updates to Alberta’s Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act

A decision by U-Haul International to enact a nicotine-free policy for new hires in the United States is unlikely to motivate other employers, says an anti-smoking advocate.

“I can confirm to you that it is unusual. I don’t necessarily see this becoming a trend,” said Les Hagen, executive director of Action on Smoking & Health.

The nicotine-free hiring policy at U-Haul International, which employs 34,000 people across the U.S. and Canada, will go into effect Feb. 1 in 21 states where the well-known truck and trailer rental company operates.

Company officials say in those states, it is legal not to hire people who use nicotine, including those who use e-cigarettes and vaping products. Employers in 17 states are also legally allowed to test for nicotine.

Officials say the new policy focuses on the health of team members and employees, while also decreasing health-care costs.

Hagen said Action on Smoking & Health focuses on evidence regarding smoke-free workplaces, so he was unsure what impact the nicotine-free hiring policy would have.

“When the Alberta government implemented smoke-free workplace legislation in 2008, it had a measurable impact on tobacco consumption in Alberta. Smoke-free workplaces, and by extension vape-free workplaces, certainly help to discourage tobacco use overall.”

He said recommendations from the province are expected this month to hopefully amend the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act to include vaping regulations, including the sale and promotion of products to youth.

“The bottom line is we don’t have any provincial legislation to deal with vaping. Nine provinces have passed legislation. Alberta has some catching up to do.”

But by being the last, Alberta can combine elements of legislation from other provinces to create the best controls in Canada, he said.

Recent survey results from Health Canada show 50,000 school-age children and youth used vaping products in Alberta in the 2018-19 school year, up from 35,000 in 2016-17.

“Protection delayed is protection denied.”

— With files from The Associated Press

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