An increasing number of employers, especially hospitals, are also imposing bans on smokers. They won't hire applicants whose urine tests positive for nicotine use from cigarettes, smokeless tobacco or even patches.
"Tobacco-free hiring" policies, which are designed to promote health and reduce insurance premiums, took effect this month at the Baylor Health Care System in Waco, Texas.
"We're trying to promote a complete culture of wellness. We're not denying smokers their right to tobacco products. We're just choosing not to hire them," says Marcy Marshall of the Geisinger Health System in Danville, PA.
However, some say the policies violate civil rights.
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Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University's School of Public Health says
"These policies represent employment discrimination. It's a very dangerous precedent."
Federal laws allow nicotine-free hiring because they don't recognize smokers as a protected minority, says Chris Kuzynski with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Paul Billings of the American Lung Association says he's seen no data that prove nicotine-free hiring gets people to quit.
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