It’s a “responsible step” but also cheaper for U-Haul International to no longer hire people who use nicotine.

U-Haul International’s New Year's resolution is to have healthier employees, so it will no longer hire smokers in 21 states, including Nebraska and Iowa.

In February, the truck and trailer rental company plans to stop interviewing and hiring anyone who is a nicotine user in the states where it is legal to do so.

"This policy is a responsible step in fostering a culture of wellness at U-Haul, with the goal of helping our Team Members on their health journey,” said Jessica Lopez, U-Haul’s chief of staff.

It’s also cheaper.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the United States, with smoking-related illnesses costing the country more than $300 billion a year, including $170 billion in direct medical costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Companies also pay almost $6,000 more a year for each employee who smokes than an employee who has never smoked cigarettes, according to a 2013 study conducted by Ohio State University.

The Phoenix-based company has more than 30,000 employees across the United States and Canada.

Employees hired before February will not be affected by the policy. Those who apply on or after Feb. 1 at jobs.uhaul.com will see statements regarding the nicotine-free hiring policy on applications and will be questioned about nicotine use, U-Haul said.

Applicants who live in states where testing is allowed will also have to pass a nicotine screening to be considered.

Some hospitals and other health businesses have implemented no-nicotine hiring policies. Alaska Airlines has had the policy since 1985 to address health care costs and health consequences.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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