U-Haul announced that it will no longer hire employees who smoke traditional cigarettes or vape e-cigarettes. The policy will become effective on February 1 for the 21 states where the company does business. However, it won’t affect the current employees.
A total of 21 states now allow employers the option to not hire someone who smokes or uses nicotine. Even though 17 of the states take it a step further and allow drug testing for nicotine before hiring, U-Haul has said it won’t be doing that now.
The reason for the change in policy is to enhance the company’s wellness program. The focus is also on lowering the costs of healthcare, which can be increased from the use of nicotine and tobacco. The following states are part of the new policy:
Even though this seems like an extreme policy and it is certainly rare, it’s by no means the first. Alaska Airlines has had a similar policy as part of the hiring process ever since the 1980s.
Other organizations may not fail to hire people because they smoke, but they often reward those who give it up or don’t smoke with lower health insurance costs or other incentives.
Encouraging Employees to Do Better
Many employers use incentives to encourage employees to be healthier. This idea benefits both parties. First, it helps employees get healthier, which enables them to enjoy life more and do more things they like. It also provides them with special benefits that mean something to them.
For the employer, the benefit is reduced employee sick time. Employees are able to be at work every day and are often more productive because they feel better. They also believe the employer cares about them.
The rewards can vary based on what the employer can afford and is willing to do as well as what the employees find to be motivational. Gift cards are often popular along with drawings for other prizes.
Other rewards include:
- Paid time off
- Lower insurance premium
- Reduced deductible
- Lower co-pays
- Employer contributes to HAS
Some incentives allow the employee a chance to participate, such as with a drawing. Only one person wins, but it’s enough to get more people participating. Other incentives reward everyone who is successful, such as when a person earns an extra day off from work.
With research showing that vaping isn’t much safer than smoking traditional cigarettes, more employers may offer rewards for people who stop this habit. For other employers, they may decide to follow U-Haul’s action by restricting employment to those who avoid these dangerous habits.
What is interesting to note is that employers and the public at large is putting vaping and smoking tobacco products into the same category. This is in direct contrast to what vaping manufacturers want consumers to believe about their products. It also increases the challenge they have to convince people that vaping is a better alternative to smoking, which goes directly against what many organizations, such as the American Lung Association are saying to the public.
Vaping Death Totals Continue to Rise
While the vaping illness that was so prevalent in the news during the summer of 2019 isn’t making headlines now, it’s still a major concern with new cases and deaths being reported. Four more deaths have been added to the list since January 21, bringing the total to 64.
More Illnesses and Deaths
Those deaths have occurred in 28 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The number of those hospitalized for the illness was up to 2758, which is an increase of 47 since the January update. The illness also has a name – EVALI or e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury. Most of the products contain vitamin E acetate, which is a product safe for use as a topical or for eating but harmful when inhaled. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still believes there could be more than one cause of the disease.
According to health officials, the worst of the disease occurred in September 2019 with the most cases being treated. New cases are still being treated and reported around the country and other deaths are under investigation. The government agencies have warned people to avoid using illegal products for vaping.
Sales of vaping products, especially those that contain THC, have dropped around the country where cannabis has been legalized for recreational use. Washington had the largest drop in sales by nearly 50 percent. Other states, including California and Colorado, are seeing an increase once again.
Federal agencies claim that nicotine vapes aren’t part of the outbreak of the illness. A ban across the country on most flavored vaping products took affect early in February. This includes fruit and mint, but it may not be as effective as is hoped. The ban focused on cartridges for vaporizers or prefilled pods, such as those manufactured by the major e-cigarette manufacturers. Disposable vapes weren’t included in the ban, and they feature various flavors.
There is some concern that states may be taking the ban too far. Proponents for vaping say that banning menthol could do more harm than good. They cite statistics that say menthol smokers smoke less than non-menthol smokers. Vaping in schools is still a major concern because the devices are easy to conceal and use during school hours. It can be difficult to catch a student vaping. The schools are concerned about how vaping is impacting their studies and grades as well as their behavior at home.
The design of many of the vaping products makes it easy to hide in plain sight. For instance, one product looks just like a Sharpie and even has the word written on the side. Another product looks like a watch, which can be worn on the wrist. To combat this problem, some schools have installed vapor detectors in bathrooms. While no alarm is triggered, a message is sent to administration to alert them about what is going on.
Vaping may not make the headlines as it has in the past, but it still carries a risk for those who continue.
Facts and Myths About What Causes Cancer
Over the years, you’ve probably heard that a wide range of things can lead to cancer. New research will either validate or deny these claims, but it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Here is a list of a few things that have created concern in recent years and the truth about them.
One of the most popular items that has been linked to cancer is artificial sweeteners like Equal and Sweet ‘n Low. Sweeteners that contain saccharine got a bad rap a few years back when it was discovered that the ingredient caused cancer in rats.
According to researchers, rats react in a different way to saccharine than people. There has been no indication that it leads to a higher cancer risk, and the warning label has been gone on these products since 2000. Aspartame hasn’t been found to cause cancer either.
While cell phones haven’t been linked to cancer, they do come with warnings. They emit the same kind of energy as what is found in microwave ovens. It’s best to use a hands-free device, just in case.
You may not think about the dangers of eating processed meat, but the nitrates in hot dogs, lunch meat and other types of meat could cause cancer. These nitrates specifically increase the risk for colon cancer.
No, coffee doesn’t cause cancer, which is good news for coffee fanatics. In fact, even better news is that research shows that drinking coffee regularly could reduce the risk for specific kinds of cancer, including liver, uterus and prostate cancer.
You can find this ingredient in mouthwash and toothpaste, along with other products. It may also be present in drinking water. While there have been concerns for how it can cause cancer, no direct link has been found.
Antiperspirant or deodorant
Both of these products are designed to help prevent odor, but antiperspirant keeps you from sweating while deodorant stops the smell. These products contain various chemicals that act similar to estrogen, which can cause cancerous cells to grow. However, no definite link has been found between the products and cancer.
X-rays aren’t safe for the body, which is why doctors and dentists cover you with a lead blanket to keep the radiation away from your body. Higher doses of radiation lead to a higher risk of cancer. However, x-rays usually include a small amount and only slightly raise your risk.
Some cleaning products and other household items can increase your risk of cancer. The dangerous products are those listed as volatile organic compounds or VOCs. If they are listed as low-VOC, it means they are safer. You can look for products that say danger or poison, highly flammable, corrosive or highly combustible as an indication of what to stay away from.
Some of these items have been linked to cancer while others have not proven to carry a risk. It’s best to be careful and avoid certain products if you’re concerned.
Are You at Risk for Cancer from Driving Too Much?
A study done by the University of California at Riverside suggests that carcinogens in car seats may increase risk for developing cancer on long commutes. According to research, car seats contain TDCIPP, a flame retardant.
CBS News reported on the study, which raises the concern for people who spend longer times in their vehicles due to commutes to work or school. People who are exposed to carcinogens long-term may have an increased risk for developing cancer.
What is TDCIPP?
This chemical is technically known as chlorinated alkyl phosphates. It’s used in automotive seating and upholstery as a fire retardant. It’s also been used in the pads on infant changing tables and nursing pillows. It was once used in pajamas for children, but it was eliminated because it caused serious side effects. However, it’s still one of the most common additives for baby products.
The chemical can get into the air and mix with dust in a home. It can fall onto various surfaces in the household, including toys. Children who put the toys in their mouth may ingest the chemical. TDCIPP can also land on food, which would allow adults to ingest it. With vehicle upholstery, the dust could be breathed in because of the closed space.
It can be difficult to eliminate exposure to this chemical, especially when it comes to driving or riding in a car. However, you may be able to limit your exposure in other ways by reviewing the materials in the products you buy. TDCIPP is found in polyurethane foam. You can choose cotton, polyester or other natural fabrics that are safer and don’t contain foam.
TDCIPP was added to Proposition 65 in California, which is a list of chemicals known to cause cancer. This chemical was added in 2013, but it’s still being used in vehicles. The study showed that elevated risk came from just a week of commuting.
The Study and Participants
The study used about 80 participants, all of whom were students with commutes of about 15 minutes up to over two hours. The participants wore silicone wristbands as part of the test for five days. Airborne contaminants are attracted to silicone. The research team believes that the chemical then migrated to the participants’ systems.
The team plans to conduct another test with more participants of various ages. They plan to study ways to protect those who must commute daily from exposure. At the present time, they recommend dusting the inside of the car regularly to remove any excess dust. The Environmental Protection Agency also has guidelines on how to limit exposure to contaminants, though they may not be specific to TDCIPP.
The concern goes beyond what information was learned in this study to the possible impact for those who spend years with daily long commutes. Some people travel for one or two hours every day or more for many years. The potential for long-term effect is still an unknown until more research is done on TDCIPP and commuters.
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