Missouri Hospital Adopts Nicotine-Free Hiring Policy

As the whole health care industry focuses more strongly on prevention, Missouri hospitals are trying out new ways to create truly smoke-free campuses.

This past week, the second hospital system in Missouri (Saint Francis Medical Center) adopted a nicotine-free hiring policy, complete with requiring applicants to take a nicotine test.  The first Show Me State health care organization to make this leap was Truman Medical Center back in 2006.

In many states, including Missouri, labor laws prevent employers from refusing to hire based on tobacco use, but not-for-profit hospitals are exempt. And, it’s a growing trend across the United States.  More than 6,000 companies nationwide have adopted a nicotine-free policy, including several other hospitals, Alaska Airlines and Union Pacific Railroad.

It’s a bold move that shows hospitals really practice what they preach. Of course, there’s also a financial benefit. It’s estimated that employers loose $12,000 a year for every employee that smokes.

Check out the details in this Bloomberg Businessweek article.  

What do you think – have organizations gone too far with a nicotine-free hiring policy?

  • Ashlyn Brewer

    While I’m a big believer in practicing what you preach, I have to wonder if this is too far. Smoking is legal, and this seems like it could be a gateway to similar, more frightening policies, for instance not hiring candidates with a BMI above the “healthy” range.

    I’d be more impressed to see health care groups implementing better incentive programs and wellness classes for staff.

  • Farrell

    I agree with Ashlyn – what is next? It’s a slippery slope. Many hospital and medical buildings have already made their “campuses” smoke-free, of which I totally approve, as there is nothing worse than having to fumble through a smoke-filled crowd of doctors and nurses before getting to your appointment.

    However, will they one day be fining employees if they don’t work out for x number of hours per day, or burn x number of calories, or have more than 1 alcoholic beverage with dinner…or whatever other habit they deem “unhealthy”?

  • Ashlyn Brewer

    I completely agree, Farrell, and your examples are particularly disconcerting.

    There’s no doubt that the American workforce needs to adopt a healthier lifestyle – but I’m not sure it should start with preventing people from obtaining employment.

  • Beth

    I will note, in Missouri, only non-profit organizations can have nictoine-free hiring policies.