St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network is screening applicants for tobacco use, and those who test positive won’t be eligible for employment, according to an article on PhillyBurbs.com, an online news source for Philadelphia residents. St. Luke’s recent policy change banning tobacco users from its ranks opens up a mighty big can of worms. Some tout the measure as a “win-win” because it is likely to reduce tobacco-related illness, thus saving the organization money and employees their health. However, others see it as an invasion of privacy.
The practice of limiting employment based on whether an individual uses tobacco is illegal 29 states, but 11 states allow employers to implement such policies, says the PhillyBurbs.com article. The article is unclear whether this new policy applies to St. Luke’s employed physicians, but if this trend takes hold, credentialing specialists in states that allow employers to ban smokers may soon see a new checkbox on physician application forms (and be screened for tobacco use themselves).
What are your thoughts? Is it right to turn down a qualified applicant because he or she uses tobacco products?