Can an employer reject candidates for employment on the basis that they smoke?

There is currently nothing in discrimination law to prevent an employer from rejecting candidates on the basis that they smoke. However, there would be potential unfair constructive dismissal issues if an employer applied this rule to existing employees applying for a transfer or promotion.

In addition, while the Equality Act 2010 (Disability) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/2128) provide that addiction to nicotine is not an impairment for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, nicotine consumption and addiction can contribute to conditions such as lung cancer or emphysema. An individual suffering from one of these conditions would be entitled to the same level of protection against disability discrimination under the Act as any other disabled candidate.