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Insurance company rejects smokers

(Photo: KNXV/CNN) (Photo: KNXV/CNN)

PHOENIZ (KNXV/CNN) – An insurance company is banning smokers from their employment pool at any of their five locations, including Phoenix, AZ.

Humana's Regional Vice President Jeff Chicaots says new hires will have to undergo not only a drug test, but also a nicotine test.

"We are an organization that is going is going to promote healthy behavior and lifestyle, and if we don't do it, who's going to do it," Chicaots asked. "If you are found positive for nicotine, we will not be offering you a position."

If you are hired and then start smoking, Humana says it will give you a chance to become smoke free again. Just like any current employee who smokes, they will have to go through the company's mandatory program designed to help people quit smoking.

Humana says it's already implemented a similar program in Ohio in 2009, and they say legally they have the right to do it in Arizona.

Many people in Phoenix believe the new policy is discriminating against smokers and it's not right.

"It's not an issue of discriminating against smokers - we know that smoking is the largest cause of preventable diseases in the United States," Chicaots said.

Other companies around the country have also adopted policies of not hiring smokers. Legal experts say smoking is not a category that is protected under the law.

Copyright 2011 KNXV via CNN. All rights reserved.

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