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No Smokers Hired

September 22, 2011 Updated Sep 22, 2011 at 7:11 PM PDT

It’s no secret that smoking comes at a high price. “Smoking is implicated in the top 3 causes of death,” says Baylor Pulmonologist Dr. Mark Millard.

But starting January 1st, it could cost you a job.

Millard continues, “We are not going to hire you if you have nicotine in your urine.” Baylor Dallas president Joel Allison added, “We do a drug screen on all applicants so it will be just added to that as part of that screen.

The Baylor network plans to adopt a new policy to not hire smokers. “It’s a way of Baylor saying we’re going to walk the talk,” Millard added.

Allison says, “As healthcare leaders we should be role models that we should set an example and for too long we’ve been in the sick care business it’s time we do the healthcare business.”

The new policy won’t apply to current employees, but the 5% of Baylor employees who do smoke pay anywhere from $50 to $600 more in insurance premiums, and are offered free smoking cessation classes.

“Personal freedom is important and cigarettes aren’t banned it’s just that smoking doesn’t take place in public places and now employees won’t be able to smoke,” Millard noted.

And attorneys say this sort of discrimination is perfectly legal.

Attorney Clint David said, “Employers can discriminate against you based on your smoking habits. Smokers are not a legally protected class, like race or religion. So employers can absolutely base their hiring decisions on whether or not people smoke and it’s absolutely legal.”

Baylor officials say adding a screening for nicotine will cost them about $60,000 a year.

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