Discrimination Against Smokers


Is smoking covered by any Anti-Discrimination Acts?

A client recently asked me the question “during a job interview, can I ask someone if they are a smoker?” In short the answer is yes.

Smoking does not fall under any of the Anti-Discrimination Acts, meaning there is nothing illegal about refusing to hire a smoker. If smoking was found to be a disability, it would be illegal to discriminate against smokers. Although nicotine is an addiction, it may not be seen as a disability due to the range of alternatives available that allow employees to continue working, including nicotine patches and gum.

Although refusing to employ smokers is legal, there are alternatives to this approach. These include cigarette breaks being counted within an employees allocated break time, or using alternative measures of performance, as time spent at a desk doesn’t always indicate the productivity of an employee. It’s always important to remember how these approaches may affect your organisation, with a refusal to hire smokers having the potential to cause backlash from clients, customers and potential employees. Using alternative measures may eliminate the need to introduce a hiring ban on smokers, and allow your organisation every opportunity to succeed.


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Marisa Ross

HR Advisor

Marisa is an experienced and motivated HR professional with a strong HR generalist and business operations background with a focus on employee relations, performance management, leadership training & development, workers compensation & injury management, and employee retention. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science with a minor in Counselling. Having worked in a variety of industries from SMEs to large blue-chip organisations, Marisa is passionate about enriching employee experience, employee retention, and building leadership capability in people management.

Aimee Grigson

Aimee Grigson

WHS Advisor

Aimee has a strong understanding of Workplace Health and Safety Legislation and standards and has extensive HSEQ experience in a number of industries. Aimee has a great ability to engage across all levels of organisation, including field teams, leadership and external stakeholders. Aimee ensures Health and Safety Management Systems are compliant to legislation, effectively implemented and understood by all. Aimee has a Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety and qualifications in auditing and incident investigations. Aimee is passionate about coaching and developing small businesses towards a positive safety culture.