This is a pretty good metaphor for where the country is heading. Even faculty members who don’t smoke see this for the personal intrusion it really is.

Colleen Flaherty of Inside Higher Ed reports.

Do You Smoke? Pay $75 a Month

First Pennsylvania State University made employees verify that their children were in fact their own and their marriages were real to continue receiving health care benefits. Next, it announced that employees who didn’t submit to a biometric screening by fall, and annually, would have to pay a $100 monthly insurance surcharge.

So last week, when Penn State announced it was instituting a $75 monthly surcharge for smokers, and an additional $100 surcharge for coverage for spouses and domestic partners eligible for insurance through their own jobs, some faculty took it as proof that their benefits were under attack.

“Let me preface this by saying I don’t smoke and I don’t care for smoking and I’m glad there are regulations against smoking in the work place,” said Lee Samuel Finn, professor physics and astronomy at Penn State’s main campus in University Park.“But what we’re talking about here is reducing someone’s compensation because they smoke, and that’s not a whole lot different than telling someone we’re not going to hire you because we don’t like the way you live your life.”

Matthew Woessner, professor of political science at the Harrisburg campus, said he was equally outraged, and that’s it’s a slippery slope from penalizing someone for smoking to penalizing them for a much more common health problem: being overweight.

“It’s very important that people understand the larger principle involved,” he said. “Once an organization thinks it has the right to regulate legal conduct, there’s no reason to think it couldn’t levy that right to arguably a more serious health problem in America.”