Frequently Asked Questions

Smoking and human rights

Can an employer refuse to hire me if I smoke?

An employer can refuse to hire someone if they smoke because smoking is not covered by the Human Rights Act. Some employers have negative attitudes to smokers and may refuse to hire them. Although this may not be considered fair or reasonable, it is not unlawful.

The Human Rights Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in certain areas – including employment – and on certain grounds – like sex or disability. However, smoking is not a ground in the Act.

Some people argue that smoking is a disability, but in other countries where this argument has been legally tested, the courts have all held that smoking is not a disability.

For more on this subject:

Are anti-smoking policies at work and in places like bars and restaurants legal?

Banning smoking in workplace and places like bars and restaurants is allowed under the Smokefree Environments Act. This Act is intended to protect non-smokers from being affected by smoking. As a result of the Smokefree Environments Act, smoking is now also banned in hospitals, including psychiatric hospitals and will be banned from prisons in 2011.

What about my right to smoke?

A person’s ‘right to smoke’ is limited by the Smokefree Environments Act.

Further information