You all have great, valid points, and I agree that the government shouldn't necessarily try to dictate what you do in your personal life with your personal time.
And excuse me while I get on my soap box
and PLEASE don't anyone take offense to what I say, this is just my humble opinion and despite what I say I don't judge individuals, this is just in general and from personal experience.
I think what this employer did is GREAT. Sure, the government shouldn't do it, but he is the owner of what I can only assume is a private business. CA is an at will employer (I know the article says "Weyers' method, while effective, wouldn't fly in California because the state has laws that prohibit employers from making hiring or firing decisions based on employee participation in a legal activity."), but all rules have silly exceptions. I think he SHOULD be allowed to do it.
Why? Smoking is a terrible, disgusting addiction. It takes over and ruins lives. Yes, alcoholism is bad, maybe worse. But, I have two points for that. One, how many times can you WORK while DRUNK and not get fired? Not many, at least at the jobs I've worked. And two, if you drink not at work and don't try to work drunk or hung over, you may be ruining your health, but you're NOT ruining your work effeciency or that of your coworkers. Or your coworkers health.
Where I work now, we have a lot of smokers. I wish my boss would fire them all. Each and every one of them leaves for a MINIMUM 10 minute break every hour or two to go smoke. WHY DON'T I GET OVER AN HOUR OF BREAKS AND MY HOUR LUNCH??? Because that's too many breaks. OH, but the smokers are ADDICTED, so it's ok for them. HELLO?? That's not right.
Also, when they do come back in, they REEK. STINK. HORRIBLY. They give me a headache and make me nauseous. Now, these are people I really like, in all other respects. But I am polite and considerate to them, why can't they return the favor? They are too selfish and self centered, and don't care if they make me suffer. I don't pile on perfume and reek them out of the office. But they sure stink me out. But can I complain? Can I leave the office because they make me sick? No, of course not, I have to suffer. Because they are selfish.
So, while I agree that what they do in their personal lives is their own thing. They want to kill themselves, fine. That does NOT mean a private employer and the company should have to suffer for it. If someone drinks at work or is drunk at work, they get fired. Same should go for smoking. If you are ineffecient and hurt the over all work place and company, you SHOULD be fired, no matter what the lousy excuse.
Now, getting off my soap box.
I don't understand why the employer would want to make the spouses quit smoking. He really should have no control over that, so that is too far. My guess would be that either it's because of insurance reasons (and if that's the case, yes, just increase premiums) or that a smoking spouse is too much of a tempation. The article says he tried incentives and such, maybe the incentives worked, but then the spouses ruined it. Who knows!