Bill lets SC employers fire for at-home smoking

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A bill that would let South Carolina employers hire and fire based on someone's off-the-job smoking habits appears to be going up in smoke.

A Senate subcommittee voted Wednesday to shelve the legislation. But hospital executives say they'll push for another hearing.

The bill would repeal a state law barring employers from making personnel decisions based on whether someone uses tobacco outside of work. That includes hiring, firing, promoting or demoting workers.

Sponsoring Sen. Kevin Bryant of Anderson argues the government has no business telling employers how to spend their money. The libertarian-leaning Republican says the individual liberty of the business owner is the issue.

But Sen. Glenn Reese of Inman says the idea that someone can be fired for smoking on their back porch is akin to Gestapo tactics.