Nicotine is a drug, just like caffeine. But cigarettes are so commonly used and accepted many people may not think of them as "drugs" – until now. The New York Times reports job applications now warn of "tobacco-free" hiring, requiring the job-seeker to submit a urine tests for nicotine. New employees could even be fired if caught smoking.
More hospitals and medical businesses are creating strict policies that make smoking a reason to turn away job applicants. They say it’s because they want to increase worker productivity, cut down health care costs and promote healthier living.
This change has sparked many debates, some even among anti-tobacco groups. Some believe the new policies are an invasion into the employees’ private lives. Hospitals in Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas stopped hiring smokers last year and more states are openly considering the option. Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.
If the new policy does result in lowering the costs of health care, some are worried employers may then want to monitor and inhibit other employee behavior such as drinking alcohol, risky hobbies and even eating fast food.
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