Friday, February 11, 2011

Bans on hiring smokers

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 new rules essentially treat cigarettes like an illegal narcotic. Applications now explicitly warn of “tobacco-free hiring,” job seekers must submit to urine tests for nicotine and new employees caught smoking face termination. ...

[E]mployees who smoke cost, on average, $3,391 more a year each for health care and lost productivity, according to federal estimates.

“We felt it was unfair for employees who maintained healthy lifestyles to have to subsidize those who do not,” Steven C. Bjelich, chief executive of St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo., which stopped hiring smokers last month. ...

The head of the Cleveland Clinic was both praised and criticized when he mused in an interview two years ago that, were it not illegal, he would expand the hospital policy to refuse employment to obese people.
--A. G. Sulzberger, NYT, on hiring consequences of rising health care costs

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