Gov. Norm Bangerter likely will veto a bill supporters say is intended to balance the privacy rights of employees with the interests of employers to regulate workplace conduct.
Sponsored by Sen. Craig Peterson, R-Orem, SB122 would prohibit employers from discriminating against people who smoke, drink or use other "lawful products" away from the workplace as long as their conduct does not interfere with their job performance."We don't believe smoking needs to be elevated to the level of a constitutional right," said Bud Scruggs, the governor's chief of staff, Monday morning.
Asked if Bangerter would veto the bill, Scruggs said, "That is certainly the direction the governor is leaning in right now. Philip Morris is involved in a misinformation campaign that you can't even smoke at home and that's frankly making our decision easier."
But supporters of the bill say it's not solely a tobacco issue. "We just think - and we think the public agrees - people have a right to some privacy. We see this going a lot further than alcohol and tobacco," said Ed Mayne, AFL-CIO Utah president.
A Dan Jones & Associates poll commissioned by Philip Morris/
Kraft/General Foods showed that 94 percent of the respondents believe it is inappropriate for employers to fire or refuse to hire people who smoke away from the workplace.
Eighty-one percent in the poll also say it is not appropriate for employers to dismiss or deny someone a job because they are overweight.