A new hiring trend among North American employers is signalling smokers to butt out – or stay out.

An increasing number of businesses, including Ottawa-based Momentous Corp., stipulate “non-smokers only” on their job postings.

“Everyone knows smoking kills you and we prefer to work with very intelligent people who aren't choosing to kill themselves with every puff,” said Rob Hall, Momentous Corp.’s president.

Hall said this hiring practice has slashed in half the cost of employee health benefits compared to five or six years ago.

There are several Canadian jobs posted on indeed.com that request non-smokers only. In the U.S., there are several institutions that no longer hire smokers, including Flint, Mich.-based McLaren Health Care, which tests applicants to see if nicotine is in their systems.

"Smokers cost more money. Smokers miss more workdays, smokers have more health problems,” said Stewart Harris, a law professor at Appalachian State University.

A recent U.K. study conducted at the University of Nottingham found that smokers are 33 per cent more likely to miss work, taking an average of 2.74 more sick days than their non-smoking co-workers. The study said this absenteeism costs U.K. businesses $2.15 billion in 2011.

Television health guru Dr. Mehmet Oz says he wants to see a culture where smoking is unpopular and is promoting the practice of companies not hiring smokers, saying it will save them money.

"We have to make it uncool to smoke and it is a huge economic drain and a quality drain on the workforce as well,” he said.

Arthur Schafer, an ethics consultant for the Department of Paediatrics & Child Health at the University of Manitoba, said this is the wrong approach for employers to be taking.

“I think most Canadians would recognize that most smokers are addicts and need assistance in breaking their addiction and shouldn’t be excluded as long as they are competent to do the job,” he said.

Melodie Tilson, director of policy at the Non Smokers’ Rights Association, says not hiring smokers isn’t going to help them end their addiction.

"Somewhere between two-thirds and three quarters of smokers, at any given time want to quit smoking, and they need help, they don't need to be penalized,” she said.

With a report from CTV’s medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip