Humana only hires smoke-free employees

(CNN) -- Is it discrimination or a smart business strategy? One large company is banning smokers from the new employee pool.

Starting today (Friday), Humana insurance company in Arizona no longer hires smokers at any of their five locations. Jeff Chicaots, Humana's Regional Vice President, says, "We're an organization that is going to promote healthy behavior and lifestyle and if we don't do it, who's gonna do it?"

He says new hires will have to undergo not only a drug test, but a test for nicotine as well. "And if you're found positive for nicotine we will not be offering you a position," adds Chicaots.

But if you're hired and then start smoking, Humana says it will give you a chance to become smoke-free again. Just like any current employees who smoke, they'll have to go through the company's mandatory program designed to help people quit smoking.

Some people believe the new rule is discriminatory.

But Humana says it's already implemented a similar program in Ohio in 2009, and they say legally, they have the right to do everywhere.

Other companies around the country have also adopted policies of not hiring smokers. Legal experts say smoking is not a category that is protected under the law.


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