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Danville, PA - Hospital Won't Hire Smokers; New Yorkers Outraged

Published on: January 1, 2012 10:27 PM
By: AP / NY Daily News
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Danville, PA - A major Pennsylvania health system will begin testing new hires for nicotine starting in February.

Danville-based Geisinger Health Systems says it will begin testing for use of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, snuff, nicotine patches and gum as part of routine drug screening.

At least two other hospital systems in the state — Susquehanna Health Systems in Williamsport and St. Luke’s in the Lehigh Valle — have already implemented similar policies.

Amy Brayford, Geisinger’s head of human resources, says the goal is to improve the health of employees and provide a healthier environment for patients. Officials say the policy will apply only to incoming employees, not current personnel.

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Anyone who fails their nicotine test can kick the habit and reapply in six months.

“It’s discriminatory,” fumed Margaret Hatcher, 58, of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. “As long as people are qualified, they should be given an opportunity.”

“That’s crazy, that’s not fair,” moaned Mindy Johnson, an administrative assistant at a research hospital.

“If the best candidate to take care of me is a smoker, I’d much rather them take care of me than an inferior candidate who isn’t a smoker.”

Geisinger serves more than 2.6 million residents in central and northeastern Pennsylvania and has nearly 15,000 employees.


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Read Comments (20)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jan 01, 2012 at 10:58 PM Anonymous Says:

Geisinger is in the middle of nowhere. What do New Yorkers care what they do?

2

 Jan 01, 2012 at 11:19 PM Anonymous Says:

These two New Yorkers who object can whine all they want but they have no legal basis to protest. Smokers are not a "protected class" under Federal law or any state laws I'm aware of. Perhaps they should "kick their habit", especially if they work in the health care field.

3

 Jan 02, 2012 at 12:11 AM Darth_Zeidah Says:

Much as I hate smoking and everything that goes with it, I have to ask whether active discrimination against smokers is legal or not.

4

 Jan 02, 2012 at 07:25 AM Butterfly Says:

What happens if a non smoker gets second hand smoke through floor boards like hard wood floors? Hire or no hire?? It is Catch-22 situation!!

6

 Jan 02, 2012 at 12:52 AM einer Says:

Give it another couple years and there will start jumping up laws like no discrimination against smokers and against intergender marriage

7

 Jan 02, 2012 at 04:15 AM Chelmite Says:

Patients particularly those who suffer from respiratory issues should not be subjected to the second hand smoke that lingers on smokers even after they smoke.

8

 Jan 02, 2012 at 04:30 AM Physician who smokes a pipe Says:

They are doing this all over the USA now. I like that they are clearly health conscious, but I will tell you that this practice is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Tobacco is a legal substance and thus it is well withing the Americans right to pursue life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I do not think that there is any answer in sight, but hope that someday there is a lawsuit against one of these hospitals and perhaps a supreme court overview case.
It is a shame because many people like to smoke less caustic things like a cigar or a smoking pipe which are not inhaled and thus less morbidity and mortality.
Not to mention that there is a certain absolute right that the hospitals can not allow the smoking on their premises, but what if a person wishes to use a nicotine gum or patch to get through his working hours?
This is unconstitutional.

9

 Jan 02, 2012 at 08:13 AM UnOrthodox Says:

While the smokers are not doing anything illegal, this is about liability and insurance coverage. They don't want to be sued by patients and family's who can say that they were affected by being in proximity to a smoker, and they don't want to have to pay higher health care premiums for their employees who smoke.

10

 Jan 02, 2012 at 08:29 AM Reb Yid Says:

Reply to #3  
Darth_Zeidah Says:

Much as I hate smoking and everything that goes with it, I have to ask whether active discrimination against smokers is legal or not.

I don't think smoking status is one of the classes of people you can't discriminate against. I've heard of age, race, gender, orientation, religion, etc. But I've never heard of a law saying you can't discriminate on the basis of smoking status. How would this be any different from refusing to hire people who collect stamps, or something like that? Surely no law prohibits that.

11

 Jan 02, 2012 at 09:05 AM ablydec Says:

"“It’s discriminatory,” fumed Margaret Hatcher, 58, of Clinton Hill." He he. Was the pun intended??

12

 Jan 02, 2012 at 09:43 AM Chaim Says:

Reply to #9  
UnOrthodox Says:

While the smokers are not doing anything illegal, this is about liability and insurance coverage. They don't want to be sued by patients and family's who can say that they were affected by being in proximity to a smoker, and they don't want to have to pay higher health care premiums for their employees who smoke.

It is about health insurance - smokers get sick more often and are more expensive to insure

13

 Jan 02, 2012 at 10:04 AM Anonymous Says:

To #8- I'm really surprised that a Physician such as yourself, would state that pipe and cigar smoking is not as risky as cigarette smoking. People have contracted throat cancer and have died from pipe and cigar smoking. Regarding not hiring smokers, many employers have adopted this policy. It makes sense, since healthy employees will take less sick days off, and less major medical claims will be filed from an employer's group health plan. From a personal experience, I'm not happy when a contractor comes into my home smelling of cigarette smoke. His clothes still smell from a cigarette, which was recently smoked. I am much more comfortable in only hiring non-smoking contractors.

14

 Jan 02, 2012 at 11:40 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Butterfly Says:

What happens if a non smoker gets second hand smoke through floor boards like hard wood floors? Hire or no hire?? It is Catch-22 situation!!

that much shouldn't come through on a drug test.

15

 Jan 02, 2012 at 11:46 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
Physician who smokes a pipe Says:

They are doing this all over the USA now. I like that they are clearly health conscious, but I will tell you that this practice is UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Tobacco is a legal substance and thus it is well withing the Americans right to pursue life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I do not think that there is any answer in sight, but hope that someday there is a lawsuit against one of these hospitals and perhaps a supreme court overview case.
It is a shame because many people like to smoke less caustic things like a cigar or a smoking pipe which are not inhaled and thus less morbidity and mortality.
Not to mention that there is a certain absolute right that the hospitals can not allow the smoking on their premises, but what if a person wishes to use a nicotine gum or patch to get through his working hours?
This is unconstitutional.

what is the difference between this and someone who will not hire a man with tattoos? Piercings (nose, tongue ect)? They are legal but if I say I won't hire because of that, does that make me discriminatory or just want an upscale business office?

what about the hypocritical nature of these doctors who smoke, but say that it is quite dangerous?

Where in the constitution does it prohibit this? I have read through it several times... [if you find this there, then how can you not read the second amendment clearly?? "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed"]

16

 Jan 02, 2012 at 12:19 PM username Says:

Reply to #15  
Anonymous Says:

what is the difference between this and someone who will not hire a man with tattoos? Piercings (nose, tongue ect)? They are legal but if I say I won't hire because of that, does that make me discriminatory or just want an upscale business office?

what about the hypocritical nature of these doctors who smoke, but say that it is quite dangerous?

Where in the constitution does it prohibit this? I have read through it several times... [if you find this there, then how can you not read the second amendment clearly?? "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed"]

Someone else's tattoos and piercings, while not attractive (to me), don't interfere with my ability to breathe. Second/thirdhand smoke does.

17

 Jan 02, 2012 at 12:34 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #13  
Anonymous Says:

To #8- I'm really surprised that a Physician such as yourself, would state that pipe and cigar smoking is not as risky as cigarette smoking. People have contracted throat cancer and have died from pipe and cigar smoking. Regarding not hiring smokers, many employers have adopted this policy. It makes sense, since healthy employees will take less sick days off, and less major medical claims will be filed from an employer's group health plan. From a personal experience, I'm not happy when a contractor comes into my home smelling of cigarette smoke. His clothes still smell from a cigarette, which was recently smoked. I am much more comfortable in only hiring non-smoking contractors.

You're right, there are risks. But of course as it is not inhaled, the risk of lung cancer and COPD are much less.
As for tattoos, there are requirements for appearance and if that is not meeting an organizations design, they have no authority to push their presence in the work place I think; as well, if someone smells bad, one might be inclined to ask them to leave the work place. That is a separate issue.

18

 Jan 02, 2012 at 03:00 PM Not_just_that___ Says:

addiction is an illness and may qualify

19

 Jan 02, 2012 at 07:07 PM Anonymous Says:

I love the way the Daily News takes a wire service story and puts a New York spin on it by interviewing a couple of New Yorkers and then saying "New Yorkers outraged."

20

 Jan 02, 2012 at 07:36 PM PMOinFL Says:

Reply to #9  
UnOrthodox Says:

While the smokers are not doing anything illegal, this is about liability and insurance coverage. They don't want to be sued by patients and family's who can say that they were affected by being in proximity to a smoker, and they don't want to have to pay higher health care premiums for their employees who smoke.

What a stupid concept. What about all the obese non-smokers? Should they be able to discriminate against the obese? They will cost more for insurance, after all. Perhaps people with diabetes should be excluded from the workplace as well.

The reality of LIFE is that everyone is of SOME risk of something. The "smoker" issue is just one of those ways that companies lie to their employees about the cost of health insurance. They keep ratcheting up the cost of healthcare to the employees and then blame it on smokers and such. What nonsense.

I know a guy who gets massages twice a week because he had "soft tissue" damage to his shoulder or some nonsense like that. He'll get that for the rest of his life... maybe we should look for some way to fire him.

21

 Jan 03, 2012 at 05:02 PM newtransplant Says:

I wish they'd implement it over here in the UK, the number of times that I have been attended to by a nurse just off her break stinking of cigarettes......... and other hospital staff..... I think we have to have a warning, like an allergy warning, I am allergic to second and thirs hand smoke, please do not attend me unless you are a non smoker.....

22

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