Being a non-smoker myself, I often find working with smokers to be irritating for various reasons. Are there any laws prohibiting the employers from discriminating against smoker employees in their companies in either Canada or USA?


2 Answers 2


Smokers are not a federally protected class, but state rights vary. This article shows a map of which states have enacted legislation protecting smokers. I suspect with healthcare costs going nowhere but up, more and more companies will try to hire nonsmokers only.

  • 1
    If a protected class smokes more than the population average - then that is indirrect disrrimination.
    – Neuro
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 9:28
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    @Neuro - maybe, but if you have a valid business reason to say "no smokers" (which "cheaper access to health care" appears to be), then it's unlikely that a smoker in a protected class will be able to argue that the true cause of discrimination was their membership in the protected class. (IANAL, but my first company (in Texas) appears to have successfully enforced a "no smokers" hiring rule.)
    – Adam V
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 17:09
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    @AdamV down side of not having a NHS then :-)
    – Neuro
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 20:04
  • Health care costs are going up for everybody, not just smokers.
    – Jasmine
    Commented Jan 13, 2015 at 20:51

Federal employment law doesn't protect against smoker discrimination, only prohibiting employment activities that discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetics.

States are free to protect workers from other discriminations.
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently have laws that protect workers from smoker discrimination, prohibiting employers from refusing to hire smokers and from banning them from smoking outside of the workplace.

  • 3
    One might argue that addiction to cigarettes is a form of disability. *8')
    – Mark Booth
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 12:51
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    @MarkBooth A disability is something you typically can't help. As an ex-smoker I certainly know that it can be helped. Commented May 11, 2012 at 13:50
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    @maple_shaft - My comment was intended as tongue-in-cheek, since some people seem to have more trouble throwing off this particular addiction than others.
    – Mark Booth
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 17:17
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    One might argue that, but then one would lose that argument.
    – JohnFx
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 23:15
  • 5
    BTW, the ADA regulations specifically exclude smoking as a form of disability.
    – jfrankcarr
    Commented May 12, 2012 at 11:53

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