Monday, August 07, 2006

The new corporate smokescreen.

The fight against smoking is reaching its final frontier. According to the latest European Commission ruling, employers in Europe are within their rights to refuse jobs to smokers. So just like dogs and coolies got classified in the same category, the same now applies to smokers and non-productive workers. In fact the advertiser who ran the ad in Ireland that proclaimed smokers need not apply said “If these people can ignore so many warnings and evidence, they do not have the intelligence that I am looking for. Smoking is idiotic”.

How things can change in the span of 50-60 years. Earlier, rings of smoke accompanied with thoughtful expressions were the harbinger of creativity. The ultimate American export of consumerism, Marlboro man gave smoking a sense of ruggedness and machismo just like the riveted jeans he wore. Hollywood movies reinforced its cool image, and localized versions like Rajnikant’s ishtyle gave it further popularity. Commercially, it was a cash cow. High margins, cash to be ploughed for new investments and of course political greasing.

Before the Erin Brokovichs, came the gradual clamping of the weed. Crowded commutation options like airplanes came first. Then came public places. Then came central air-conditioning which meant workers had to go out for a fag. Although when they return, no amount of Clorets can get the Marlboro stink away. Soon the smoker carried the brunt of wasting office time on a pursuit that was anyways non-productive in the long run. But coffee break gossip and status update meetings were allowed.

Thus the smokers’ status as the pariah at the beginning of this century is confirmed. I am predicting that this century’s target will be fat people. Just like high taxes on cigarettes, fat people face new forms of economic disincentivization. Outsized people end up paying more for clothing since a discount retailer like Walmart doesn’t stock their size since they do not make economies of scale. Waist size 38 never has the same variety as 30-34. Moreover fat people stand a higher risk of spending their well earned fortunes on medical care due to the higher propensity for diabetes and heart disease.

But worse are the social pressures. You can never be fashionable like the devil(usually a marketing executive) who wears Prada .You will be given discourteous glances at the escalators and airport check in counters. As you sulk into the chair with your paunch of prosperity, slimmer people will assume that you don’t contribute as much as them to the company. You cannot participate in the diet discussions during lunch hour which would make the Atkins diet come under Maslow’s higher order needs and not the lowest. Sooner or later the companies will start thinking that fat people are naturally unproductive like smokers. They just take more time for everything from walking to digesting food and hence waste mission critical office time. So why not avoid them also. The only way fat people can avoid this is by calling fatness a disability so that they cannot be discriminated against. But that seems a far fetched idea when you compare with the CEO’s new vision of a lean and mean corporation. Reduce or retire !!


At 9:15 AM, Blogger Parth said...

I for one am not complaining. If second hand smoke didn't kill, they can harm themselves as much as they want. Banning it from public places is a sensible move. Banning them from working is a different story altogether.


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