Pennsylvania Hospital To Hire Only Non Smokers

03.31.10 | FL News Team

The second largest employer in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania says it will no longer hire smokers. The employer is St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network which says the no-smokers policy will go into effect beginning May first. From that date forward, anyone applying for work at the facility will have to undergo a nicotine screening. Anyone who tests positive will be rejected but those candidates will receive a list of smoking cessation resources and programs provided by the hospital. Those who manage to kick the habit can re-apply and be re-tested in six months.

 Pennsylvania is one of 20 states where non-nicotine hiring policies are legal. A federal Appeals Court ruled in 1987 that smokers are not a "protected class" entitled to special legal protections. Many businesses ban the hiring of smokers. Alaska Airlines is one. Dennis Hamel, vice president of employee services says the airline policy has been in place for 20 years, quote, "applicants who smoke or who consume products containing nicotine are not eligible for jobs at Alaska Airlines.

 The "Journal of the American Medical Association" has reported smoking-related diseases cost the U.S. healthcare system about 24-billion dollars each year and productivity losses to employers more than double that amounting to 221-dollars for every person in the United States