World Health Organization Bans Hiring of Smokers The World Health Organization recently announced that it will no longer hire people who smoke tobacco. Eric Weiner reports on the implications of the decision, and the response to the announcement.

World Health Organization Bans Hiring of Smokers

World Health Organization Bans Hiring of Smokers

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The World Health Organization recently announced that it will no longer hire people who smoke tobacco. Eric Weiner reports on the implications of the decision, and the response to the announcement.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Madeleine Brand.

There's been a new development in the campaign against smoking. Last week, the World Health Organization announced a new policy for prospective employees: Smokers need not apply. NPR's Eric Weiner reports.

ERIC WEINER reporting:

It's no surprise that the offices of the World Health Organization, or WHO, are smoke-free. After all, the UN agency has been pushing for smoking bans around the world. But the agency's director general decided that wasn't good enough, so he recently made a change to the form that every job applicant must complete. WHO spokesman Iain Simpson explains.

Mr. IAIN SIMPSON (Spokesperson, World Health Organization): As part of the application process, two questions are asked. The first is: Do you smoke, yes or no? And if no, then the applications goes through, no problem. If yes, then there's a second question which is: If you were recruited by WHO, would you be willing to quit, yes or no? And if yes, then the application goes through, no problem. If no, then the application would not go through.

WEINER: In other words, if you smoke, even if you do so only at home and you're not willing to quit, then you won't be hired by the World Health Organization. Smokers already working at the agency will be allowed to stay on. Spokesman Iain Simpson explains why the WHO decided to stop hiring smokers.

Mr. SIMPSON: And it was decided by the director general that as a matter of principle, WHO should not recruit smokers simply because we are the leading organization fighting against tobacco use in the world.

WEINER: Response to the new policy announced late last week has been mixed. Predictably, anti-smoking groups applauded the move, but others say it is discrimination plain and simple. It's one thing to ban smoking, they say, another to ban smokers. And what about other behavior that's bad for your health, like consuming excessive amounts of alcohol or, for that matter, fast food? A WHO spokesman says it is still hiring these people, at least for now. Eric Weiner, NPR News.

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