…a team of scientists in California have found that unemployed non-smokers are not only 30% more likely than smokers to be in work after a year, but also earn on average an extra $5 (£3.50) an hour than those who light up.
“We have known about the harmful health effects of tobacco use, and we have know that for now about 50 years,” said Judith Prochaska at Stanford University, who led the study. “But here is evidence to show the financial harms of tobacco use, both with success in the workplace – in terms of being rehired – and then also potentially in the differential in pay that smokers versus non-smokers receive.”
Published in the Jama Internal Medicine journal, the study involved 131 unemployed smokers and 120 unemployed non-smokers. Among their findings, the authors reported that smokers were younger, less educated and more likely to be unstably housed, in poorer health and to possess a criminal record than non-smokers. More than half of all participants had been unemployed for more than six months, while nearly 60% had left their last job because their contract ended, or they were laid off.
When the researchers followed up with 108 of the non-smokers and 109 of the smokers after 12 months, they found a pronounced difference between those who smoked and those who did not. When duration of unemployment, age, education, race and ethnicity and perceived health status were taken into account – and extreme cases removed from analysis – the team found non-smokers were 30% more likely to be employed after 12 months than smokers. In addition, among those who had found work within the year, smokers were found on average to earn just over $5 an hour less.
Linda Bauld, a professor of health policy at the University of Stirling, who was not involved in the study, said: “Amongst people that are already disadvantaged, smoking might be stacking the odds not in their favour in terms of them gaining employment.”
There’s an obvious explanation for this, which is that smokers have been made into pariahs by the likes of Linda Bauld and Tobacco Control, and many businesses now won’t hire them. So it shouldn’t be any surprise at all if smokers have difficulty finding work.
But instead of blaming Tobacco Control’s own discriminatory policies, Linda Bauld blames smoking itself for the relative unemployability of smokers.
The War on Smokers may not only be the cause of their diminishing employment prospects, but also of their declining health. It may not be that smoking has any adverse health consequences at all, but instead that persecuted smokers – who have to stand outside in all weathers to smoke, and may also be given reduced healthcare – suffer much more from infections, falls, and any number of other maladies. That’s to say that the claim that Smoking Causes Disease, backed up by bans and exclusions and propaganda campaigns, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For if you take any social group, and subject them to exclusion, discrimination, and demonisation, it’s almost certain that its members will suffer a multitude of adverse consequences, of which unemployment and illness will be just two. The circular logic of the likes of Linda Bauld then ascribes these adverse consequences to whatever happens to be the defining characteristic – e.g. smoking – of that social group, rather than to the exclusion and discrimination they are suffering as a result of the campaign against them.