February 11, 2011 - More hospitals and medical businesses in many states are adopting strict policies that make smoking a reason to turn away job applicants, saying they want to increase worker productivity, reduce health care costs and encourage healthier living. The policies reflect a frustration that softer efforts — like banning smoking on company grounds, offering cessation programs and increasing health care premiums for smokers — have not been powerful-enough incentives to quit.
VIDEO - VOA: More US Companies Refuse to Hire Smokers...
Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport, MA requires job applicants to take nicotine tests. If they test positive, they’ll be rejected. If they quit smoking, they can try again six months later. Hospital spokesperson Deb Chiaravalloti says, “We believe as a health care organization we need to make sure we have a healthy environment for our employees and our patients. Smokers are not a protected class.” (Massachusetts - Anna Jaques Hospital jobs - if nicotine test is positive do not apply..)
Massachusetts Hospital Association - as of January 1, 2011 will no longer hire users of tobacco products..;
Hospital in Georgia will no longer hirer new employees that use tobacco..;
For example, hospitals in Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas, among others, stopped hiring smokers in the last year and more are openly considering the option. Paul Terpeluk, a director at the Cleveland Clinic: “We’ve had a number of inquiries over the last 6 to 12 months about how to do this” which stopped hiring smokers in 2007 and has championed the policy. “The trend line is getting pretty steep, and I’d guess that in the next few years you’d see a lot of major hospitals go this way.”
John J. Stinson, 68, said he had been smoking for more than three decades when he decided to apply for a job at the Cleveland Clinic, helping incoming patients, nearly three years ago. It turned out to be the motivation he needed: he passed the urine test and has not had a cigarette since. “It’s a good idea,” Mr. Stinson said.
Two decades ago — after large companies like Alaska Airlines, Union Pacific and Turner Broadcasting adopted such policies — 29 states and the District of Columbia passed laws, with the strong backing of the tobacco lobby and the American Civil Liberties Union, that prohibit discrimination against smokers or those who use “lawful products.” Some of those states, like Missouri, make an exception for health care organizations.
A spokesman for Philip Morris said the company was no longer actively working on the issue, though it remained strongly opposed to the policies.
While most of the companies applied their rules only to new employees, a few eventually mandated that existing employees must quit smoking or lose their jobs. There is also disagreement over whether to fire employees who are caught smoking after they are hired. The Truman Medical Centers, here in Kansas City, for example, will investigate accusations of tobacco use by employees. In one recent case a new employee returned from a lunch break smelling of smoke and, when confronted by his supervisor, admitted that he had been smoking, said Marcos DeLeon, head of human resources for the hospital. The employee was fired.
Reference: Hospitals Shift Smoking Bans to Smoker Ban by A. G. SULZBERGER (Alain Delaquérière contributed research.), The New York Times, 2/10/2011.