Providence Hospital Announces Snub on Smokers, Tobacco Users
The state’s largest private employer will no longer hire people who smoke or use tobacco products of any kind.
Lauren Maxwell Bio
The state’s largest private employer has taken what many see as a bold move. Providence Health Care Systems says it will no longer hire people who smoke or use tobacco products of any kind.
Hospital officials have been considering the move for over a year but say they finally decided the time was right to set an example for good health. And while the change is perfectly legal, it has raised some questions among current employees who smoke.
“A lot of our employees were obviously concerned, “ says Tammy Green, manager of Providence Employee Health Systems. “They worried about what we were going to do next and whether it would impact them. There is no impact to current employees. What we hope is that for employees who do use tobacco products this might be the nudge they need to do something different.”
Green says starting Nov. 17, Providence will add nicotine to the list of substances screened in drug tests that are required for all new employees.
The tests will pick up all forms of tobacco, including nicotine gum and patches used by those trying to quit smoking.
Green says they struggled with the rules when it came to those who are trying to quit.
In the end, the hospital decided it would be too difficult to monitor and decided who was actively smoking and who was using weaning products, which is why it made the blanket ban on all types of nicotine.
“I certainly can understand that people think this is Big Brother,” says Green. “But if you look at health care costs, the number one preventable cause of death and disease in our country is tobacco use.”
Green says the policy should not only save money on employee health care costs, but should set a healthy example for the entire community.