Workplaces refusing to hire tobacco smokers


There’s no debate over whether smoking cigarettes is bad for your health, but there is a debate over whether smoking is bad for your employment status.

A recent article in the New York Times highlights the fact that many hospitals and other medical businesses are implementing policies that turn away potential employees if they smoke. In some instances, these policies can even lead to termination of current employees if they do not stop smoking. Certain organizations have turned to urine tests to ensure their employees are not inhaling any nicotine.

As may be expected, the issue has raised vigorous opposition from those who feel that conditions of employment should not be based upon whether or not someone participates in an activity that is legal. In fact, 29 states and Washington DC passed laws two decades ago prohibiting discrimination against anyone who smokes.

However, some of those states make exceptions for health care organizations—and the article points out that the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and the World Health Organization refuse to hire smokers.

What would you do if your workplace required employees to be completely smoke free? And if you already work in an environment with these policies, how has it affected your experience?




The Scrubs Staff would love to hear your ideas for stories! Please submit your articles or story ideas to us here.

Post a Comment

You must or register to post a comment.

8 Responses to Workplaces refusing to hire tobacco smokers

  1. No, Maybe some people drink alcohol, or chew tobacco, or have sex with strangers, or have sex with each other on the job or off or go to church or worship the devil or smoke pot or do coke or are raciest or
    tell lies frequently. What anyone does on their own time or at their home or even outside should be of no concern to their employer. Smokers are treated worse than any other group of” addicts” People have gone insane about smokers. I think if it were up to non smokers all smokers and only smokers would go straight to hell. also the new thing for nurses getting a job is hospitals are now checking your credit report so if you have a sick family member and are stacking up the bills you also will not get a job. So as you sit there smoking ,worried about how to keep all your bills paid you might also be looking for a nursing job, you’re in trouble
    from the heart of
    Sharon Hunnicutt Talbert

  2. CW

    I understand why the organizations mentioned above won’t hire smokers. That makes sense, if they want employees who are passionate about promoting health. If someone wants a job claiming to be passionate about preventing cancer, yet is a smoker….that would raise a red flag.

    But if smoking/not smoking is not relevant to the job, then it shouldn’t impact employment. Smoking doesn’t really impact performance like drinking or doing hard drugs does. If the company is concerned about their image, then all they have to do is strictly prohibit smoking on the grounds.

  3. Your name

    Sharon my dear….well said.

  4. That is such a tough call – one should defiantly not be smoking on the job and having those around them affected with 2nd hand smoke. But if they smoke affer work

  5. But if they smoke after work in their own homes – that’s a tough one…Workplaces can provide stop smoking programs for their employees to be healthier but to fire them for not is another issue. Hopefully the next generation will not be a generation of smokers. (Sorry for the 2 replies – must have hit enter too quick)

  6. April

    This whole issue is crazy! Are we in America? Smokers do not smoke inside, it is a personal choice, it is LEGAL, and the taxes smokers pay with the “sin” tax pays for so much of what non smokers use! This is just another way of control. Really? If the healthcare industry is wanting to promote and be viewed as hiring only “healthy” appearing staff, they also need to fire and not hire all the huge, over weight nurses and staff. Which is worse? Most people in the healthcare industry either smoke, drink, do RX drugs or eat way too much! Bottom line is this is America and like it or not smokers have the RIGHT to smoke a LEGAL substance! Alcohol is far more dangerous the cigs ever thought of being but how many healthcare workers are tested to see if they drink? Ridiculous!!

  7. J

    I would much rather have a humanist, smoking practitioner.

    “Sensitives” who enter nursing, teaching, and like professions, may well smoke cigarettes. I would bet my last dollar that the level of care, and education, took drastic dives once smoking in the workplace was banned.

    Kubler-Ross smoked Dunills. I’d rather have people like her than all these alleged pure folk.

  8. trenee1209

    The majority of humans working in healthcare pick up bad habits to help them cope with extreme stress that is inherent when working with a human life. It may be too much ice cream, cigarettes, drugs, alcohol. I would much rather have a Nurse or Doctor that eats too much, or smokes, than one that relies on drugs and/or alcohol to help them cope. Smoking or being overweight does not affect ones judgement or skills.

    I smoke and hate everything about it but can’t quit. I’ve tried it all. Why doesn’t someone come up with an effective smoking deterent, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion.