Delaware Online- Jazmin Goodwin
U-Haul is taking a stand on smokers and nicotine users.
The moving and storage rental company announced a new hiring policy, effective Feb. 1 in 21 states: it will no longer hire nicotine users. Job applicants who are nicotine users will be declined. Employees hired prior to that date will be unaffected by the new terms.
“We are deeply invested in the well-being of our Team Members,” stated Jessica Lopez, U-Haul chief of staff in a news 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.”
U-Haul, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, employs more than 30,000 staffers across the U.S. and Canada, with 4,000 in Arizona, respectively.
The nicotine-free policy will be enacted in states including Arizona that lawfully allow the decline of hiring individuals who are nicotine users. Other states include: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
"Individuals seeking U-Haul jobs in the aforementioned 21 states will see statements regarding the nicotine-free hiring policy on applications, and will be questioned about nicotine use," the company stated. In states where testing is allowed, applicants must consent to submit to nicotine screening in the future to be considered."
Twenty-nine states including District of Columbia have state "smoker protection laws" in effect that prevent employers from discriminating against employees for using tobacco products, according to the American Lung Association.
U-Haul currently has a wellness program that includes nicotine cessation assistance for current members along with other nutrition and fitness features.
The legal age to purchase tobacco products recently increased from 18 to 21, after a bill was passed by the House and Senate and signed into law on Dec. 20.
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths, according to the CDC.