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No Smokers Allowed


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For smokers in Detroit, it just became a whole lot harder to get a job in healthcare.

That’s because the Detroit Medical Center recently instituted a policy that requires new applicants to submit to tobacco testing. The jobseeker must take a urinalysis test that screens for nicotine. If detected, the application is rejected. However, if the candidate stops smoking, he or she is invited to reapply after 90 days.

Like a growing number of hospitals across the United States who have gone smoke-free, the DMC outlawed smoking on hospital property in 2007. It only made sense, then, that hospitals would eventually begin excluding candidates who are smokers. Doctors and nurses have a difficult enough time trying to convince their patients to quit smoking without having those same smokers see hospital employees smoking or smell tobacco on their clothes and breath.

In Michigan alone, “the DMC joins the Lansing-based Sparrow Health System, the Oakwood Health System in Dearborn and the Crittenton Hospital Medical Center in Rochester to adopt the no-smoking policy for applicants.

Hospitals like DMC know better than anyone the costs of smoking. From medical bills to insurance rates, smokers pay more and so do their employers. It not only is a sound (and unhypocritical) healthcare policy, but it also makes good business sense as well.

And far from making it difficult, hospitals like DMC have seen that the smoking ban has not hampered their ability to find and hire good employees. In this economy, not only is a smoking ban not a deterrent, but it can actually make it easier to narrow the field of candidates and give hospitals and medical centers the ability to hire better employees, more quickly.

Several states have already begun to pass laws against excluding candidates on the basis of their smoking status.


  1. Nancy T. says:

    I’m sorry but that is going to far. I am a smoker and to deny me a job because I smoke is plain and simply discrimination. I have followed all the rules i.e. smoking outside (in all kinds of weather). I’ve have been respectful by not smoking in door ways. If in a public venue I always ask if my smoking will bother anyone and have been respectful of that. But now to deny me a job because I smoke is discrimination and there is no other word for it. I thought this was the United Stated of America! When did we turn into a communist country? I don’t want to hear any crap about hurting other people by second hand smoke. If they don’t like it than they need to go on somewhere else. I have found that the ones who complain are usually the ones who are standing in a smoking area. Well hello………And if you say anything they say well they don’t want to be alone in there area. BooHoo. There are so many other important things this country should be concentrating on like feeding our hungery, medical and dental care for our poor and no person should have to live on the street. Come on we need to get our heads out of our —–!

  2. B.J. Catanzaro says:

    If smoking is SO bad then the government should ban it! And stop collecting over 50% for ever single pack of cigarettes sold as tax dollars! Maybe people don’t realize what our smoking affords to John Q Public! The tax dollars collected in this country pays for a lot of things that every one enjoys! I am tired of being discriminated against and this is taking it just a little too far!!!

    • hhawkins says:

      “The tax dollars collected in this country pays for a lot of things that every one enjoys!”

      I think you hit the nail on the head here. As much as we might want to ban cigarettes, the tobacco lobby is much too strong. So the government does what it can to defray the public costs associated with smokers and in doing so, makes smoking prohibitively expensive for many smokers.

  3. John D. says:

    Very interesting article. The issue of smoking in general is such a divisive one. Typically, you are either completely for it or completely against it.

    It’s interesting that employees are essentially being drug tested for nicotine now. Will we soon be hiring only those who don’t partake in any ‘vices’? Daily testing to see if you had any drinks the night before..?

    Curious to see if this sort of policy will start to be adopted nationwide.

    • hhawkins says:

      The argument could be made that breathalyzer testing would just make sense for many occupations. Rather than random drug screenings, daily breathalyzers could save money and lives in industries where the employee operates heavy machinery or is responsible for the lives of others. People are justifiably suspicious of Big Brother, but in this case, I think breathalyzers should be standard procedure.

  4. Lee says:

    Smoking is only the beginning! I have heard a nasty rumor of a hospital in the Cleveland area planning to discriminate against obese applicants. Although both are unhealthy practices, what’s next – refusing to hire because of the length of your hair? Discrimination is discrimination

  5. sheri says:

    are they also going to refuse to hire people who drink alcohol? i am a smoker and i have a heck of lot more sick time hours accumulated than my non-smoking friends who are always calling off due to s/s of cold.


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