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Ohio city sparks backlash after it stops hiring smokers to encourage healthier workplaces

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The city of Dayton, Ohio, is taking unusual measures to create a healthier environment for its workers.

The Dayton Daily News first reported that the city no longer will hire workers who use tobacco or nicotine at any time, which appears to be a rare policy in the public sector.

Dayton Human Resources Director Kenneth Couch says employees who smoke cost thousands of dollars more annually in medical costs and lost productivity.

The city defines tobacco and nicotine use as “inhaling, exhaling, burning, vaping, any lighted cigar, cigarette, and e-cigarette or pipe, chewing or any other type of tobacco use.”

Workers hired now also will be subject to nicotine and tobacco testing if the city has “reasonable suspicion” they are using the products.

Union leaders say they understand the policy’s aims but worry it’s a “slippery slope” to restricting employees based on other lawful lifestyle choices.

Other public agencies and private employers have such policies.

More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking, such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases and diabetes.

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