Chattanooga Hospital Stops Hiring Tobacco Users

This has nothing to do with LaVergne but it was such a “WOW” story that I had to link it here.  Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga has announced they will no longer hire anyone who uses tobacco or any kind of nicotine.  Here’s the link from the Daily News Journal,

Any form of nicotine will make an applicant ineligible to be hired — even nicotine gum or a patch.  The new hiring rule will not affect current employees of Memorial.  Information posted on the hospital’s Web site states testing for nicotine will be added to an already-required screening for illegal drugs and will disqualify applicants who test positive.

I used to be a smoker, but quit years and years ago.  As if the cost of cigarettes isn’t incentive enough to get people to stop smoking (which is a powerful addiction – quitting was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done), I wonder if this  will have any impact on gettng people to quit.  What do you think of the hospital’s decision?  And WOW.

16 comments for “Chattanooga Hospital Stops Hiring Tobacco Users

  1. Thomas
    January 18, 2010 at 11:38 am

    This is absolutely ridiculous. They are segregating a group of people like they are criminals. Smoking tobacco is not a crime (yet).

  2. michaelinLV
    January 18, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    If this company is a private employer, I see no problem in them setting the criteria for who they hire. I think a urinalysis is a bit extreme. If someone says they don't smoke and show no signs of smoking while at work (ie, taking excessive breaks, reaking of cigarette smoke, etc), then why would the boss care what they do outside of work? With that said, it's still their right to set their hiring criteria.

    BTW, this is nothing new. One of my current co-workers told me when she was hired for her last job (which was 20 years ago), they told her they wouldn't hire her if she smoked. Of course she told them she didn't smoke! She smoked back then and still does to this day, but she didn't smoke at work or right before work, and so no one was the wiser.

  3. Sherry
    January 18, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    One major reason employers are going this route is the higher healthcare costs that smokers will pay somewhere down the road.

    Would I be thrilled about their decision if I was applying for a job? Of course not. Are they well within their rights to not a hire a smoker? Absolutely. Smokers are not now, and never will be, a protected class. I also suspect people would lie about smoking unless they knew they were going to be tested. Otherwise, there's no incentive to tell the truth and that kinda defeats the purpose of the rule to begin with.

  4. D
    January 18, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    this is nothing new, most hospitals have a policy prohibiting smoking anywhere on campus. TennCare (which I work for by extension) discourages smoking to the point of corralling the smokers out to the parking lot, with no shade, right in the weather.

    smokers are stinky, anyway.

  5. mh
    January 19, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    As a healthcare worker and NON smoker, even I think this is ridiculous! This is being done to promote wellness issues???? Next it will be overweight individuals!!! What kind of "test" can you run on a new hire to monitor daily calorie intake?? We all know that smoking is bad for you but so is overeating and alcohol intake and prescription drug use, etc… Heck, even opening a jar of peanut butter can be bad for your health these days! If they want to promote wellness for their facility they need to look beyond the smoking issue. I mean do their smokers smoke right in the OR, the ER, etc… Ludicrous!!!!!!! They are willing to sacrifice qualified individuals based on their personal status rather than their skills. Oh well, I'm just glad I won't be visiting that facility in the near future. My opinion is only mine and I don't expect great followers but how far are we going to let them go? The next thing you know we will be required to have a DNA test to prove that we aren't related to a smoker or else be put to death!!!

    • Angie B
      January 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm

      I agree with you whole heartedly. I smoked for over 30 years and my decision to quit was a personal one. I've been smoke free for 19 months now. I haven't even taken a sick day from work in so many years, I couldn't tell you when. I know all the statistics about smoking related illnesses, but a lot of that has to do with your genetic dispositions also. I'm telling you, fat people will be next!!!

      • michaelinLV
        January 19, 2010 at 8:49 pm

        Being fat already can cause you to not get a job. You can only weigh so much in order to be in the Air force or the Navy as an example. However, fat people don't need 5 extra "eating breaks" every day and they don't smell like a big fat cigarette…

        … and a little off topic, but WHY DO SMOKERS THINK IT IS OK TO THROW THEIR CIGARETTE BUTTS OUT THE CAR WINDOW!!?!?!? It annoys me so much, that crap just goes and clogs up the storm drains and ends up in the lake. Throwing a cigarette butt out the window is no different than me throwing a mcdonalds cup out the window. It's nasty.

  6. docpepper
    February 15, 2010 at 11:12 am

    What if the tables were turned?

    It is the legal right for a private an employer to choose his/her own hiring criteria, but what if the business required that you smoked?

    I am sure the smoking nazis would be all over that one, claiming rights were being violated.

    This is absurd. Where is the ACLU?

  7. michaelinLV
    February 15, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    docpepper, I don't follow your logic.

    In most jobs, you have to wear clothes. However, some jobs (stripper) require you wear no clothes. Is that violating the rights of someone who choses to be a stripper?

    Ok, that's a silly example, but the best I could come up with in 20 seconds!

    • Sherry
      February 16, 2010 at 9:55 am

      Actually, I think it's a pretty good example! 🙂

    • docpepper
      February 16, 2010 at 2:39 pm

      Great example michaelinLV! Just as a stripper is required to remove their clothes for the job, what if the hospital now required you to remove your clothes to work there?

      Better yet, what if the hospital required you to never wear clothes even in your own free time? Would this be bordering a line of labor laws? Then they can use pigment testing to make sure that you were not wearing clothes outside of the hospital.

      As in the above example, this requirement not to smoke on your free time is just as absurd.

  8. michaelinLV
    February 17, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    I think we can meet half way doc –

    If the employee agreed not to articipate in the group benefits program (life, health dental), then I woudl agree the hospital should have no say. Unfortunately as long as our health insurance is tied to our employer, our employers will have a financial interest in the health of their employees

    • docpepper
      February 17, 2010 at 10:01 pm

      I would be leary to meet halfway on this one. Though I understand your argument, at what point do you draw the line? Will eating habits be next? Alcohol? Exercise? Unprotected sex?

      Since the vested finacial intrests of the hospital, in this case, are to keep their insurance rates low, by having fewer insurance claims….. Then what is to stop them in the future from requiring genetic testing, to see if you are more prone to certain diseases and cancers? All in order to keep down insurance rates.

      The overweight arguement you gave in an earlier post applies to people that would not be able to physically do the job required. Also adding merit to your point, you would also never hire someone that is confined to a wheelchair to change the light bulbs at the top of a radio tower.
      The difference here is that the people that smoke in their own free time, do not lose the capability of doing the job that they were hired for.

      Be careful of the doors you open, some are much harder to close.

  9. Richard
    February 18, 2010 at 7:29 am

    What's funny, jobs alow people to take smoke breaks. Isn't that incouraging a habit. I don't like smoking because it affects the rights of the people around the smoker. I've also never seen a smoker smoke on their own free time. Smoke breaks are paid for by the company, lunch breaks are not. If I drank a coke, I'm the only one who gets kidney stones. I always agree with " no one is free when others are oppressed" but diving into someone's personal being, "You're fat, get lost" hits hard. Instead of hindering, perhaps they can have programs for employees to become as healthy as the individual wants to be. Shoving "health" down someone's throat doesn't help them, it prevents them from being motivated to accomplish it.

    Off topic — Why does healthy food cost so much more? It has 3 ingredients when its unhealthy counterpart has 20 ingredients and preservatives. You'd think the less it takes to make, the cheaper it would be, right?

    • docpepper
      February 18, 2010 at 2:45 pm

      Richard, … you have never seen someone smoke on their own free time? How is this even possible? Almost every smoker that I know smokes at their home or in their yard, or in their car, or in bars(of states that still allow this).

      Jobs do not give 'smoke breaks'. The labor laws require that an employee is required to have two fifteen min. breaks in an 8 hour shift. What that person does on their break is up to them. True, some do smoke and others do not. Though this does not apply to the topic of discussion.

      The hospital is trying to control what legal activities you do in your personal time, even in your own home, and that is absurd. Where is the ACLU?

      Off topic as well– I totally agree with you that healthy foods should cost less, however when it comes to organic foods, the cost to produce them are more expensive. No chemicals are used to promote growth or prevent disease and insects, and this causes for a less productive yield of crop. In regards to the organic meats, they can only be fed organic feed(which goes back to the crop). I hope that because of the trend of many people switching to oranganic foods, that the demand will create more producers and farmers, and that this will help lower the prices. It is all supply and demand, and unfortunately the supply has not caught up with the demand.

  10. Richard
    February 18, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    If you are taking a break, and are on the clock, it is still company time. I can't even buy a lottery ticket on my paid breaks. I agree with the personal activities, however. Your home is your haven, and no one should own you there. Glad we agree on this doc. My ownly problem about the smoking ( and i should have been clearer) is that all the smokers I know take more than 2 short breaks. Its usually 4 short breaks and 1hr for lunch. What people do in their homes is their business.

    What are your views on the recycling push in LV? I think the city should give incentives to the trash companies so we shouldn't have to pay more for a recycling program. Free ads, drop the fee on recycling, or lower the disposal fee for the companies.

    If you want it done, you have to make it worth peoples time. People won't go green if it cost more money.
    Just my thoughts.

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