Hospital's Ban on Hiring Smokers Raises Questions of Discrimination

A new ban against hiring smokers at Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga is raising questions about whether such a policy amount to hiring discrimination, according to a report by the Chattanooga Free Press.

Beginning Feb. 1, Memorial will no longer hire people who use any kind of tobacco product and job applicants will be tested for nicotine in a required drug test.

Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, said a policy against hiring tobacco users appears to be a form of hiring discrimination.

The journal Tobacco Control reported last year that 26 states have laws prohibiting such a policy.

A growing number of healthcare organizations have policies against employee smoking. For example, Mayo Clinic prohibits smoking on its premises and states that "adherence to this policy is a condition of continued employment with Mayo Clinic."

Mayo's policy states that job applicants will be informed of the smoking policy, but it does not place an outright ban on hiring smokers and does not mention tests for nicotine.

The Tennessee Department of Health reported that employers spend $2,500-$4,000 more each year in healthcare costs for the average smoker, compared with a nonsmoker.

Read the Chattanooga Free Press's report on Memorial Hospital.

View the Mayo Clinic smoking policy (pdf).

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars