INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
A group of Indiana health and business organizations is pushing for a repeal
of some legal protections given to smokers.
The Alliance for a
Healthier Indiana hopes to get rid of a state law that bans employers from
screening job candidates for tobacco use, the Indianapolis Business Journal
includes the Indiana Hospital Association, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce,
the Indiana State Medical Association, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in
Indiana and the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public
A bill introduced
by Republican state Sen. Liz Brown of Fort Wayne would repeal the 1991 law
and has the alliance’s support. The measure would allow businesses to
require employees to stop using tobacco products, even when not on the
clock. It has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Pensions and Labor.
“I think the
intention is simple,” Brown said. “We want to give employers the ability to
manage their employees and their insurance costs without the state carving
out a special class for protection.”
employers have complained that smokers raise their insurance costs.
“It’s time to
repeal this outdated law and repeal preferential treatment for smokers and
empower businesses to effectively manage rising health care costs,” the
alliance said. “Employers want to work in partnership with their employees
in helping them quit smoking.”
to repeal the law have failed to advance in the General Assembly. Republican
legislative leaders have said they’re leery of another proposal supported by
the Indiana Chamber to raise the state’s legal age for buying cigarettes
from 18 to 21.
Smoking is the only
voluntary action that state law protects during the hiring process,
according to the Indiana Chamber.
“Employers foot the
bill for the bulk of coverage costs for their workers, so they should be
able to learn upfront if a potential employee is a smoker,” said Mike
Ripley, the chamber’s vice president of health care policy and employment
Indiana is among
more than 20 states that have smoker-protection laws.