Cleveland Clinic was one of the first hospitals to refuse to hire smokers (see: Want a Job at the Cleveland Clinic?: Smokers Need Not Apply; Geisinger Follows Cleveland Clinic; Won't Hire Smokers; Tobacco-Free Hiring Takes Hold; Both Smoking and Smokers Excluded). A recent article indicated that this trend is continuing but it's also illegal in 29 states (see: More hospitals refusing to hire smokers). Below is an excerpt from the article:
Both the highly rated University of Pennsylvania Health System...as well as the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia... will join dozens of hospitals across the country when they implement their [smoker exclusion hiring] policy Monday, July 1. The move has generated criticism among civil liberties activists, hospital employees and even doctors who fear that smokers will lie about their habit — and therefore become less likely to seek help in stopping it. "It's not all slopes that are slippery, but this one really is," said Lewis Maltby, a former American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who now runs the National Workrights Institute in Princeton, N.J. He is critical of an employer's intrusion into the private time of employees....Maltby noted that drinking alcohol, eating lots of junk food and not exercising are also bad for you....The policy at Penn, with more than 28,000 employees, will extend to all the university's health centers, including three large city hospitals, a center for advanced medicine and six other clinics and medical practices. Penn's clinics and offices in New Jersey will not be affected because New Jersey is among 29 states and the District of Columbia that have passed smoker-protection laws preventing employers from discriminating against employees or job applicants because they do or do not smoke....Penn will rely on an applicant's word on tobacco use, whereas the children's hospital will test applicants to determine if they're smokers. Those who admit to having started smoking after hiring would be offered a smoking-cessation program but also would have to pay higher health insurance premiums — about $30 more a month
What I found most interesting about this article was the fact that New Jersey and 28 other states plus the District of Columbia have smoker-protection laws in force, preventing employers "from discriminating against employees or job applicants because they do or do not smoke." By the way, I don't really anticipate a groundswell of enthusiasm for hospital policies that require only smokers to be hired. Here's a list of the 29 states that have passed smoker protection laws (see: State "Smoker Protection" Laws). Six of these states passed their laws in 2000's. The remainder of states passed their laws in the 1900's with Illinois being the first in 1987. The most recent law was passed in California in 2005. If I had to guess, I think that there might be some movement now to rescind these smoker-protection laws in some of these states. I don't think that most people these days are highly motivated to "protect" smokers and a large number are concerned about the negative health effects of passive smoking on innocent bystanders.