Michigan hospitals adopting no-smoker hiring policies

Michigan appears to be the latest state where several hospitals and health systems have just adopted policies in which they will only hire non-smokers and non-tobacco users--citing their need to live up to their health missions, according to the Detroit News.

The policies, established after most hospitals have banned smoking on their campuses, will help lower employee healthcare costs, said Laura Ritzler, director of wellness for ProMedica, which owns two of the hospitals--Bixby Medical Center in Adrian and Herrick Medical Center in Tecumseh, the newspaper reports.

The move is not unanimous: The major health systems in southeast Michigan said they do not have immediate plans to adopt a no-tobacco use policy for new hires. However, the door has been open to make changes in the future.

Michigan is following in the footsteps of Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas, which in the past year have hospitals that have stopped hiring smokers--or are considering that option, which we wrote about last month.

"Our mission statement includes the phrase we're 'dedicated to enhancing the health status of our community,'" said Jeff Kapuscinski, marketing and communications director for Crittenton Hospital Medical Center in Rochester, Mich., which implemented its policy late last year. "We think this policy is a natural extension of that and a necessary step in the journey."

Bans on non-smokers, though, have brought charges of discrimination. Twenty-nine states already have laws that prevent employers from discriminating against smokers in employment decisions, said Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, a workers' rights advocacy group in Princeton, N.J.

For more details:
- read the Detroit News article