"We have a tobacco cessation person we are hiring to run our program but we could not stipulate that the person who leads this had to be a nonsmoker. That is kind of bizarre," he says.
The physician-executive says laws protecting smokers work at cross purposes with societal efforts to reduce healthcare costs. Studies show that smokers can cost employers as much as $3,400 a year in increased healthcare costs and lost productivity. "Often at the local, state, and federal level there is this intense scrutiny on the cost of healthcare. Yet we are particularly silent on the leading cost of avoidable death and disease in this country," he says.
"Our position is, if government can't help in this regard, at least get out of the way of employers and employees trying to decide how they best can preserve benefits for everybody."
"The broader issue is we see what is happening with healthcare costs. We really need to avoid those diseases that we have control over so we can save the benefit and costs for those who have diseases for which they have no control."
As resolute as he is against smoking and its destructive costs, Quinlan is also puzzled by the view of some that the battle for a smokeless society has already been won. "Smoking is embedded in this country and we need to recognize that it is a battle thought to have been won but it is far from over," he says.