Ochsner CEO Rails Against Smoking
"We are getting into your life because what you do in your life is directly paid for by me," he says. "If you go home and watch television I don't pay for that. You don't send me the bill for your cable. No, that's your business. The demarcation between rights and responsibilities and who carries the costs is a fairness issue."
"This has been flipped to where somehow my right to choose what I want to do has been translated to my right to make everybody else bear the cost of my choices," he says.
As for efforts to eradicate smoking among Ochsner employees, Quinlan says the self-insured health system's approach includes premium discounts for employees who don't smoke and cessation support for employees who do.
"Repeated studies show that people want to quit smoking, but it is an addictive behavior and usually the more you push on people in a way that generates resistance, you don't help them. There has to be acceptance for there to be change," he says. "And the tack that we take is that this is an unfortunate and addictive habit that people develop early in life often with the acquiescence of government and society."
Quinlan is particularly incensed by laws in Louisiana and more than two dozen other states—pushed by Tobacco industry lobbyists—that prohibit employers from discriminatory hiring policies against smokers.
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