Tobacco use banned in Colorado health hiring

cigaretteIn 2012, Centura Health system — one of the largest healthcare providers in Colorado — created a policy banning smoking and tobacco products on any of its properties. Now, two years later, Centura Health has announced that it will no longer hire smokers to work at any of its facilities in Colorado and Kansas. “As the region’s leading health care system, committed to improving the health of those we serve, it is important that we first serve as a role model for our communities by promoting the benefits of health and wellness,” said Centura Health Vice President of Communications Wendi Dammann. The new policy does not affect the 17,000 employees currently working for Centura Health, but new hires will be tested for tobacco usage after a job offer has been extended. Any nicotine found in the body — including that from anti-smoking aids such as patches or gum — will disqualify an applicant from consideration. This policy will go into effect on January 1. Tobacco users are not currently protected against employment discrimination per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, though some consider this type of screening to be discrimination all the same. The EEOC only protects against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, age, disability, pregnancy and genetic information. However, Colorado has passed laws in the past protecting smokers from discrimination, and 28 other states have similar laws on the books. (Colorado’s law states that an employee cannot be terminated due to smoker status; it does not specify whether an employer can refuse to hire smokers.) The American Civil Liberties Union has indicated it does not agree with employers refusing to hire someone based on a trait that does not affect job performance, asking if it’s a gateway toward regulating other “unhealthy” characteristics, such as employee body mass index, eating habits, or cholesterol levels. Photo credit: Vjeran2001]]>

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