VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Several North American companies have brought in a new controversial policy not to hire smokers.

President of the BC Lung Association Scott McDonald applauds the move, calling it the right kind of motivation to get people to kick the habit.

He also doesn’t think it’s discrimination. “If a person is a smoker, the employer can choose not to employ that person. A smoker is not a protected class such as would be a person who, for example, was disabled or of a certain ethnic origin.”

Not only do the companies involved not want people taking smoke breaks, they don’t want them smoking on their own time either. “Every hour you smoke a cigarette and a half, approximately. You are leaving one and a half times an hour to smoke, basically taking those breaks. Many people stagger those breaks; they smoke before work, they binge smoke during a coffee break and they binge smoke at lunch,” he adds.

About 85 per cent of adults in BC don’t smoke.

News1130 hit the streets of Vancouver to find out what you think of this new policy. “Health care decisions should be made autonomously by the individual and shouldn’t have an impact on your employment or opportunities for you,” says one woman.

“It seems a bit silly. I can understand marijuana being drug-tested and things like that but tobacco? I think that’s gone a bit too far,” adds a man who smokes.

“I think it’s right ban smoking in public places, but I think if people want to smoke on their own time, that’s their own freewill,” says another woman.

“I think that’s really crazy because it shows a lack of sensitivity to people with substance abuse problems. Some people really can’t stop that easily. I think these companies are cutting themselves off from some potentially very good talent.”