U-Haul International began 2020 by taking a bold stance against smokers and nicotine users.
The Phoenix-based moving and storage rental company announced that, effective Feb. 1 in 21 states, it will no longer hire nicotine users, including people who use e-cigarettes and vaping products. U-Haul noted that employees hired before that date will not be subject to the new policy.
“We are deeply invested in the well-being of our team members,” Jessica Lopez, U-Haul’s chief of staff, said in a news release. “Nicotine products are addictive and pose a variety of serious health risks. This policy is a responsible step in fostering a culture of wellness at U-Haul, with the goal of helping our team members on their health journey.”
U-Haul employs more than 30,000 people across the United States and Canada. There are 4,000 employees in Arizona.
The states included in the policy are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
In all 21 states, it is legal not to hire people who use nicotine, according to company officials. Employers in 17 states are also legally allowed to test for nicotine.
“Individuals seeking U-Haul jobs in the aforementioned 21 states will see statements regarding the nicotine-free hiring policy on applications, and will be questioned about nicotine use,” the company said. “In states where testing is allowed, applicants must consent to submit to nicotine screening in the future to be considered.”
U-Haul executives currently encourage employees not to use nicotine by waiving a required wellness fee. U-Haul has a wellness program that includes nicotine cessation assistance for members, along with nutrition and fitness features.
On Dec. 20, the legal age to purchase tobacco products increased from 18 to 21 after a bill was passed by the House and Senate and signed into law.
U-Haul is not the first company to implement such a policy. Alaska Airlines has had a similar policy since 1985 to address health-care costs and health consequences.