Proposed SC bill could hinder employment for smokers

Credit: AP

FILE - In this Tuesday, June 3, 2008 file photo, an employee takes a drag on a cigarette at Morgan's Place bar and restaurant in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

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by RICHARD DEVAYNE / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @richardwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on April 9, 2013 at 6:52 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 9 at 7:01 PM

ROCK HILL, S.C. -- Franco Rossomanno is one of dozens who work out at the Omni Health and Fitness center on Celanese Road around noon.

"I try to come in here as much as possible," he said.

Rossomanno says he is trying to get in shape-- something he has in common with many of those working out during the normal lunch hour.

Rossomanno also has something else in common with others in the center: he is a regular smoker. He said that he is trying to live a healthier life, eating better and doing his workouts. But he is against the plan by one state senator who wants to get rid of a current law which protects smokers under South Carolina.

"It may not be as healthy on the inside, but it doesn't mean that you cannot do the job as good as the next man," said Rossomanno, "You can still be healthy and smoke."

State Senator Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) plans to introduce a bill which would allow companies to decline to offer employment to candidates who light up.

The proposed bill is supported by the South Carolina Hospitals Association which released a position sheet on why it supports the bill:

"SCHA believes that hospitals working to develop a healthier, more productive workforce  while serving as role models to their community should have the option of establishing  personnel policies consistent with their goals and mission. The repeal of 41-1-85 will  provide hospitals this option. "

The Association also said that smokers cost the state's health care system $1.9 billion a year, or about $550.00 per individual taxpayer. SCHA also said that yearly, the total cost to the state taxpayers lost to lack of productivity due to smoking is about $1.94 billion a year.
 
"I think that's discrimination. It wouldn't be no different than religious discrimination or racial discrimination." said Rossomanno.

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