Smokers may be passed over for jobs in Seminole County schools.

It's just in the earliest stages of discussion now. But the School Board is tossing around the idea of establishing a policy that says if you smoke, you don't get the job. 

What drove the discussion during a board meeting this past week is the increasing cost of employee health insurance. Officials assume that if they have no disease-prone smokers on the rolls, insurance premiums will be lower.

The School Board already has made working for the district extremely difficult for nicotine addicts. A ban on smoking in buildings several years ago recently was extended to a total ban on smoking anywhere on school property. That extends to parents sitting in car lines waiting to pick up their kids and spectators at football games. 

But would refusal to hire smokers be discrimination?

Nope, says School Board Attorney Ned Julian.

"Smokers are not a protected class," Julian said. Not like race or sex or age, which have federal protection, he indicated.

While some states such as Virginia have "lifestyle choice" protection laws that shields smokers, Florida is not among them.

A number of hospitals and other health care agencies across the nation have a hiring ban on smokers.

And according to, Florida is a leader in local government entities refusing to hire smokers. 

Again, just in the tossing-around-ideas stage in Seminole, as the school board faces another hike in employee health insurance premiums. We'll let you know if it goes anywhere.