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Tobacco-freehiring - Tm Ida swam 2n Employers turn to...

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Unformatted text preview: Tm Ida» swam 2n Employers turn to tobaCCo—free hiring The decision aims to boost productivity, lower health care costs and promote healthier living. BY A.G. SULZBERGER NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE More hospitals and med- ical businesses are adopting strict policies that make' smoking a reason to turn ' away job applicants. ' The new rules essentially treat cigarettes like an illegal narcotic. Applications now explicitly warn of “tobacco- free hiring,”ij seekers must submit to urine tests for nicotine, and new employees caught smoking face t'ermi-. nation This shift to smoker- free workplaces has prompted sharp debate, even among anti-tobacco groups, over whether the policies estab- lish a troubling precedent of employers intruding into private lives to ban a legal habit. “If enough of these com— panies adopt theses policies and it really becomes diffin ' cult for smokers to find jobs, there are going to be conse— quences,” said Michael RICH SUGG / Kansas City Star Even anti-smoking advocates have found the' issue of smoke- free hiring policies tricky to navigate.‘ Siege], a. professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, who has writ— ten about the trend. “Unem— pioyment is also bad for heal ” Smokers have been turned away for jobs in the past ——- prompting more than half the states to pass laws rejecting bans on smokers —but the recent growth in the number of companies adopting no- smoker rules has been driv- en by a surge of interest among health care providers, according to aca— demics, human resources experts and anti—tobacco ad- vocates. There is no reliable data on how many businesses- have adopted such policies- But people tracking the issue ' say there are enough exam- ples to suggest the policies are becoming more main- stream For example, hospiu tals in Florida, Georgia, Mas- sachusetts. Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, TennEssee and Texas, among others, stopped hiring smokers in the past year. “We’ve had a number of inquiries over the East six to . 12 months about how to do this,” said Paul Terpeluk, a director-at Cleveland Clinic, which stopped hiring smok- ers in 2007 and has Vlgorous— 1y 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 hos- pitals so this way” The American Legacy Foundation, an anti—smoking - nonprofit group, has warned that refusing to hire smokers who are otherwise qualified essentially punishes an ad- diction that is far more likely to afflict a janitor. than a sur— ' geon. “We want to be very sup- portive of smokers, and the best thing we can do is help them quit, not condition em— ployment on whether they quit,” said Ellen Vargyas, chief counsel for the Ameri- can Legacy Foundation. “Smokers are not the ene- my?! Ii ...
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