Friday, May 16, 2008

Canadian Lung Association: Smokers Need Not Apply, Even for Non-Tobacco-Related Jobs

The Canadian Lung Association apparently will not consider job applications from smokers, no matter how qualified they might be for a position and even if the job is an administrative one and/or has nothing to do with smoking cessation.

A current job opening listed on the Canadian Lung Association web site advertises a position for a web manager. In order to have your application considered, you must be a "qualified non-smoker."

The actual qualifications for the job are as follows:
  • A Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, Computer Information Systems, Computer Science, or a closely related field.
  • Reading knowledge of French.
  • Experience in developing and running website representing an organization.
  • Experience in managing a health website highly desirable.
  • Knowledge of relevant technology for websites (i.e., design, development concepts, management tools, operation, database, content publishing and related net technologies and protocols.
  • Proficient in the use of Microsoft Office Suite, web searching, standards-based XML, PHP and Cold Fusion programming, and the use of CSS. Other programming languages also an asset.
  • Knowledge of Web standards and best practices.
  • Strong interpersonal and relationship building skills, ability to establish and maintain working relationships with those contacted in the course of work.
  • Demonstrated ability to forge partnerships and work with stakeholders.
  • Exercise independent judgement and initiative with minimal supervision.
  • Excellent communication skills – written and verbal; follow oral and written instructions.
  • Strong organizational skills and time management skills to ensure schedules deadlines are met.
  • Proven ability to work collaboratively and effectively in a team-oriented environment.
  • Excellent tact and diplomatic skills.
  • Experience in program and project administration with strong planning, and priority setting.
  • Analyze problems, identify alternative solutions, project consequences of proposed actions and implement programs in support of program goals.
  • Maintain confidentiality of client information and records.
The Rest of the Story

The Canadian Lung Association is basically saying that there is no place for smokers in the nation's efforts to improve and promote lung health.

Moreover, the Canadian Lung Association is saying that it is not interested in the most qualified applicants for positions with the Association. Instead, it is interested in seeing applications from potentially less qualified applicants, as long as they do not smoke.

Furthermore, the Canadian Lung Association is engaging in blatant employment discrimination against smokers. Nowhere in the job description for this web manager position is there a job qualification that has anything to do with whether an applicant smokes or not. The Lung Association is acknowledging and documenting for us that being a nonsmoker is not a bona fide job qualification for this position. In fact, it has nothing to do with the position of being a web manager. Thus, accepting applicants from nonsmokers only represents blatant and self-acknowledged employment discrimination.

Among smokers there is undeniably the potential to find the absolutely best qualified applicants for this position. By its willingness to exclude these applicants from consideration, the Canadian Lung Association is sending the message that smokers are not worthy of employment and that they have no role in the fight to promote lung health. This is a tremendous shame, because there is no reason why a smoker could not make a huge contribution to the prevention and treatment of lung diseases.

We in public health should in fact be doing the opposite - encouraging smokers to get involved in the battle to promote the public's health.

There is no justification for the Canadian Lung Association's discrimination against smokers. Through their bigotry, they are not sending a positive message. They are sending a message of fanaticism and intolerance.

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