WHO introduces non-smoker recruitment policy

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said it will no longer employ people who smoke, to reinforce its position at the helm of the global campaign against smoking.

The ban, which came into force on Thursday, applies to any applicants who smoke and say they would continue to smoke, either daily or occasionally. Existing staff will be encouraged to quit.

In a letter distributed to staff, the WHO said it needed to ensure that its efforts to curb the ‘tobacco epidemic’ were reflected internally.

Advertisements for positions at the WHO now carry the notice: “WHO has a smoke-free environment and does not recruit smokers or other tobacco users”.

Michael Bradshaw, employment partner at Charles Russell, said such a ban is legally sound.

“It is not illegal for an organisation to offer positions solely to non-smokers,” he said. “An applicant would not be able to challenge an unsuccessful job application on that basis.”

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