Hospitals Send Message to Smokers: Apply Elsewhere

More hospitals are instituting rules that ban smokers from working at their facilities, according to various reports.

Starting in 2011, smokers need not apply at Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo., according to a Bloomberg Businessweek report. Applicants will be tested for nicotine as part of a pre-employment screening. The hospital website's "Current Openings" page now includes the nicotine-free hiring policy, to go into effect on Jan. 1. The policy will not affect current employees, according to the report.

ProMedica Health System, based in Toledo, Ohio, will also stop hiring smokers effective Jan. 1, 2011. According to an ABC Local report, if applicants declare they do not use tobacco but their post-offer screening is positive, they will not be hired. Applicants who declare tobacco use, as well as those who do not pass the screening, may reapply for a position after 90 days.

Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport, Mass., will start hiring only non-smokers on Thursday, Nov. 25, according to a My FOX Boston report. The ban is part of a three-step plan. Last year employees were banned from smoking on hospital property, and next year the ban that will apply to patients and visors as well.

When the New Year dawns, the Massachusetts Hospital Association will no longer hire tobacco users. The trade organization already bans tobacco at its Burlington headquarters, but CEO Lynn Nicholas said the next step is to stop welcoming tobacco users inside the MHA workforce. The new rule will rely on honor system enforcement, according to a Boston Globe report.

Hospitals say hiring smokers is discordant with the health-promoting mission of a hospital. Smokers' rights advocates call such hiring bans a "witch hunt" and say nobody should be denied a job because they smoke.

Read more about hospital policy on smoking:

-Summa Health Systems in Ohio Won't Hire Any More Smokers

-Hospitals' Ban on Hiring Smokers Raises Questions of Discrimination

-What Makes Cleveland Clinic Great

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