Should Smokers Pay More for Health Insurance?

Last month the Whirlpool Corporation suspended 39 workers for smoking because they had previously enrolled in nonsmokers insurance; which is less expensive. Barbara Rose of The Chicago Tribune reports:
Whirlpool's smokers pay $500 a year more for their employer-provided health insurance -- a penalty big enough to increase the likelihood of cheating -- but how would the company find out? Internet message boards buzzed with speculation about spy cameras and company snitches.

But truth sometimes is stranger than fiction. It wasn't management surveillance or finger-pointing co-workers that outed the smokers. It was the employees themselves.

A little history is in order.

The workers' union challenged the smoker fees in 2006, citing a state law, and an arbiter ruled the company had to pay back the surcharges collected during a 28-month period through June 2006. The amount was expected to be about $1,000 per employee, according to the Evansville Courier & Press.

Last month, Whirlpool's suit to overturn the ruling was dismissed in a sealed settlement, setting the stage for rebates.

The suspended workers drew attention to their smoking when they asked for the rebates, prompting the company to check to see whether they had paid the fees. Apparently they hadn't.
Okay, I know you don’t need a longwinded explanation about why smoking is bad for you, but in Eat For Health Dr. Fuhrman offers an interesting perspective on why people smoke. Here’s an excerpt:
People with low self-esteem do not realize that they are living out a self-fulfilling prophecy. The belief that you are not worthy of attention makes it a reality. We are wired to operate in accordance with our beliefs, and it all happens beyond our awareness. A person who believes that he or she is unworthy will shy away from other people, develop habits that further lower his or her attractiveness to others, and will ultimately reinforce his or her negative beliefs and practices. In doing so, such people often lower their self-perceived social status. Status is an important factor that affects every facet of your life including the way that you eat. It has very little to do with class, economics, or education. It is a combination of what I believe about myself, what you believe about me, and—the most important part for this discussion—what I believe you believe about me. In short, it is a measure of social acceptance. Lower-status people instinctively look to higher-status people for direction, without being aware of it. Lower-status individuals constantly seek acceptance through compliant behaviors, including eating, drinking, smoking, or taking drugs.
Not to mention, smoking can actually contribute to osetoporosis—bet you didn’t know that! More from Eat For Health:
Nicotine can interfere with hormonal messages to the kidneys, inhibiting calcium reabsorption. The combination of smoking and drinking coffee or soft drinks, together with the dietary factors mentioned, makes the prevalence of osteoporosis in this country quite understandable. Dietary, health, and lifestyle components are working together to cause this drain of calcium.
Now, my knee-jerk reaction to making smokers pay more for health insurance yes they should, but where does it end? Should obese people pay more? What about the psychology scarred? This might lead us down a dangerous path of double standards.