Mass. Hospital Association To Ban Hiring Smokers

For Lynn Nicholas, president and CEO of the MHA, the issue of smoking is personal. “I have lost my own father and many, many of my beloved relatives to smoke and secondhand smoke,” she said. (Courtesy of MHA)

BOSTON — No Smokers Need Apply.

That’s the message you’ll hear from the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA) starting Jan. 1. A ban on hiring smokers as police officers or firefighters has been in place in Massachusetts since 1997, but the hospital association could be the first to take restrictions in the private sector to a new level. It hopes to become the model as employers get more involved in their employees’ health care.

For Lynn Nicholas, president and CEO of the MHA, this is personal.

“I have lost my own father and many,  many of my beloved relatives to smoke and secondhand smoke,” Nicholas said.

The association says refusing to hire employees who use tobacco of any kind is an extension of its no smoking policy in and around the office.

“We’re basically saying this is not an environment that we want in the future, so we’re not going to add individuals who use tobacco to our workforce,” she said.

Nicholas hopes to become a model for hospitals in her association and other employers.

She may be standing alone for awhile.

“It sounds like a well-intentioned idea but — it may be the post-Halloween in me — I find it a little bit scary,” said Andrew Tarsy, director of the Progressive Business Leaders Network in Massachusetts.

Tarsy said pulling smokers out of the job pool could mean employers don’t get the most qualified applicants or unwittingly screen out members of some socioeconomic groups. Most employers, he adds, are also wary of intervening in employees’ personal choices.

“A lot of employers would question whether this is a slippery slope,” Tarsy said. “Will the next set of screens be about whether they drive or what their diet is? Other lifestyle choices? And where does that end?”

Nicholas said she has no plans to restrict hiring based on any other criteria.

Police and fire departments across the state stopped hiring smokers in 1997 as part of a pension system overhaul. A ban on hiring or firing smokers would be illegal in 29 states and the District of Columbia, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That’s one reason the practice has not become more common, according to Leonard Sanicola with World at Work, a nonprofit human resources research group.

“It is still not considered to be a growing trend. The companies that I’ve seen that have done it have been mostly in the health care arena,” Sanicola said. “Most employers do wellness initiatives that are more of the carrot than the stick approach to try to get people to change their behaviors.”

The MHA does offer smoking cessation programs for current employees. It does not plan to check up on the off-duty behavior of new hires.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • John Sheehan

    My Mom died of lung cancer last week. Nothing was more revolting and dispiriting than walking past hospital employees (including nurses) smoking outside. Does the MBTA hire active alcoholics? The MHA is absolutely right.

  • Bronx75

    I understand the seriousness of smoking and second hand smoke, However everyone is warned about the causes and dangers of smoking. What habits you carry should not be the responsibility of the employer to change. People do not realize we all have a freedom of choice. Smoking is no different then alcohol and the damage is just as equal as smoking. Just think about how many patients with tremors or cirrosis of the liver drink. the cost to keep them alive is just as costly as a smokers services. I understand but lets be realistic here, bad behavior habits change needs to be done because you want to change not forced.

  • Priscilla Herrington

    Nurses and other health care professionals have to get awfully close to patients – and frankly, the smell of someone who has been smoking is nauseating. Should a sick person have to put up with that?

  • Debbie

    While I understand the reasons for such a decision it reeks of “Big Brother” control of a persons rights. An employer has every right to restrict smoking on their property but they have no right to inflict these rules once your work day is done. This is exactly why it is illegal to discriminate against smokers in 29 states. Once you allow an employer to get away with this practice they will just continue down this very dangerous path until you are trading your very soul for a paycheck. I hope that anyone who wishes to work within the MHA and happens to be an over 21 smoker challenges this in a court of law. They can only take away your freedoms if you let them.

  • Joanne Fray

    While I understand and sympathize with the Association’s motives, there may be problems with implementation of the rule.
    Most smokers are addicted to their habit. Could this addiction be a disability that must be accommodated by the employer? Doesn’t a hospital have to prove that smoking interferes with the employee’s ability to perform his or her job?

  • TessaCampbell

    Questions come to mind. Totalitarian government intrusions? I know a few crazy bungy jumpers, rock climbers, skydivers who could take a chunk out of our state budget if injured. Or how bout those people who eat GMO ’round up’ corn, or aspartane(poison), or BPA plastics, or Fluoride in city water, or breath aluminum and barium oxides in our air(from the Government’s Weather Modification programs), or the ‘harmful to health’ medications and vaccines? If people only knew how ridiculous the hypocracy has become. Massachusetts also has ‘no hire the obese’ laws. Recently, it was suggested by the research studies that the obese may have been exposed to a virus, which caused some to have the condition. Wow. Maybe getting old will be outlawed due to high cost to the state, as well. Food for thought, folks!

  • Matt Lacroix

    “My Mom died of lung cancer last week.”

    Sorry to hear that.

    “Nothing was more revolting and dispiriting than walking past hospital employees (including nurses) smoking outside.”

    Wait, I’m confused…did the employees smoking outside give your mother lung cancer? If not, does the fact that they’re hospital employees somehow make them more liable to magically infect strangers with terminal lung cancer?

    “Does the MBTA hire active alcoholics?”

    You understand that this statement and smoking cigarettes have nothing to do with each other, right?

    “The MHA is absolutely right.”

    No, they aren’t. It is a fascistic attempt to once again stick it to a population that single handedly generates a significant chunk of state (and federal) taxes through their collective individual choice to smoke.

    No smoking in public bars? Check. No smoking in public parks? Check. No smoking in private residences if non-smokers live adjacent? On the drawing board. And now we’re telling the “filthy smokers” that their freedom simply will not be recognized, despite the fact that modern restrictions relegate smokers to confined spaces off campus or on the street, and that their livelihoods will be directly affected.

    I suppose euthanization is next?

  • Linnie Terranova

    Should be interesting to see how this will be implemented……… at least at MGH I have seen international interns outside smoking … will they be included in the ban?

  • Hardy Kornfeld

    Ban smoking at work? No problem.
    Ban smoking at home? Big problem. First, it’s unenforcable unless they’re going to start testing for continine in urine. Second, if this is meant to promote health then what about diet, exercise, long work hours, overnight shifts, and a host of personal choices about leisure activities? Then there’s alcohol. Drinking too much is bad, but 1-2 drinks per day is healthier than not drinking at all (at least for men). Should the MHA require employees to consume a health-promoting amount of alcohol?

  • Ron Norton

    Congratualtions, it appears that our employers now consider us to be their property. We are all slaves to our corporate masters and know-it-alls like Ms. Nicholas.

  • http://nancib.wordpress.com/ Peng Hardin

    I understand the logic behind this policy, although as a smoker I’d be ineligible if I were to apply for a job.

    However I have one word for the new policy: DISCRIMINATION. To penalize a job applicant for what they do on their own time is nothing if not discrimination. I hope the member hospitals that enact this policy get some more work for their legal team. You can recommend that their employees not smoke, but to refuse a job applicant who smokes but is otherwise more than qualified reeks of grounds for a lawsuit.

  • David Dupont

    First of all I am not a smoker and I absolutely hate the smell that lingers on people who do smoke. That said, I agree that while employers have the right to prohibit their employees from smoking at the workplace, they do not have the right to discriminate against people who do so on their own time.

    If the MHA is going to discriminate against smokers then they should also ban anyone who drinks alcohol or eats at fast food restaurants. Just imagine how many people would suddenly become unemployed!

  • http://ummmmheyyyy.wordpress.com Samantha

    Police state here we come!

  • Michael C

    Other factors to consider:

    Smokers’ smoking breaks burden non-smoking employees, as does their increased sickness/absentee rates, raise health insurance and fire insurance costs, increase grime and mal-odor etc.

    Asthmatics can be triggered to have serious respiratory crises by second-hand smoke and third-hand smoke — the stench on clothes, walls, carpets etc. from stale smoke.

    Smokers’ with strenuous and stressful jobs — ie. most direct care providers nurses and attendants — at increased risk for acute cardiac events.

    Smokers’ lungs are breeding grounds for respiratory infections — coughing sneezing touching — which is the last thing vulnerable patients need to breath or contact.

    Hospital staff should be role models, just as we expect teachers not to exhibit self-destructive or irresponsible behavior.

  • Ellen Bernstein

    We are so going down that slippery slope of more big brother. Soon you will be telling us what to eat. Talk about Health Control industry. Who said you were our role models? Who asked you to intrude in our choices?

  • how?

    How is this the start of a police state? This decision was made by hospitals, not the government.
    This is long overdue for hospitals. A gym wouldn’t hire aerobics instructors who weren’t fit enough to make it through an hour long class so why can patently unhealthy people claim to be health care professionals? Maybe if you can’t manage your own health you should find a different profession.

  • Andrew Kuklinski

    I worked for a company, Cognex Corporation, which has had this policy in place for 20 years. The bottom line is that smokers are not a legally protected class like people who fall into one of many age, gender, racial, sexual preference, etc. groups. Therefore, you can “discriminate” against them all you want.
    The comments regarding a police state and fascism don’t make any sense here. It seems that allowing companies to choose who they hire is more on the libertarian end of the spectrum than the fascism end. All this talk of personal freedoms seems to be ignoring the freedom of the company owners to run their business how they want. Let’s be specific, you employ a housekeeper who espouses the philosophy of some group that in the past tried to commit genocide against the ethnic/racial group that you are a member of. This housekeeper doesn’t speak about this at work (your home), but has an online blog filled with opinions and statements that you and most other rational people would find morally reprehensible. Should you be forced to retain that person as an employee because they are exercising their 1st amendment rights outside of the workplace?

  • how?

    Also, for the people who are claiming illegal discrimination, no where in our country’s our state’s Equal Protection jurisprudence are smoking habits mentioned. An employer can discriminate based on MANY factors. Just because they can’t discriminate on race, gender, national origin or the like doesn’t have any bearing on smoking habits.

  • Kathy Lambert

    Discrimination on the basis of non-work related factors should be illegal period. I don’t care whether it’s race, sexual orientation, hobbies, beliefs, or whether or not someone smokes. (And I most certainly do not.)

    The MHA needs to remember they are employ their workers. They do not own them.

  • K Stevens

    A more ethical solution to this situation would be to make a smoking awareness class mandatory for the smoking employee(s) with information and support for helping them quit. Non-smokers would get this hour off with pay. Why penalize smokers by not hiring them- Why not educate them?

    The bottom line: there is no kindness in managment.
    My father was a smoker. I am sure he partially justified his habit by the lying advertisers who said it was “healthy” and “good for you”. To think that if my father were an applicant at a place of business that discriminated against smokers , he and his skills would have been rejected just becasue of his smoking saddens me.

    I understand Ms Nicholas’ good intentions, but I think her method is mean spirited, heavy-handed and too typical of managment’s attitudes toward their workers. A more enlightened attitude and a method that indicates caring on the part of management would be a more kind approach.

    No kindness in

  • Susan

    Glad to see all you people in support of discriminating against something you don’t like, but what happens when they hit on something that effects you? How far are you willing to let the government or your employer dig into your personal life? Never mind that car exhaust and urban pollution are the major causes of childhood asthma, cardiovascular disease, bronchitis, etc., not second-hand smoke. Think about that the next time you jump into your SUV, and drive by a neighborhood park in the city, where children are playing. I have had bronchitis twice in my life and pneumonia once. Each time I was working in an “energy efficient” building from the 80′s – windows that don’t open, no smoking allowed, etc. I stay out of those buildings, and no respiratory issues. This is ridiculous. We just love to pick a demon, and jump on the bandwagon. How would someone view your wine intake, or do you smoke pot on the weekends? Love brownies, or is your secret indulgence a Big Mac or anything with corn syrup? How about dangerous sports like skiing, football or soccer? Will be interesting to see when Americans finally get it.

  • http://www.wbur.org/2010/11/02/employer-smoking George D Rice

    I thought that the Cleveland Clinic allready required this of their employees, so this is not a new concept. The CEO stated that as health care provicers we need to set the example so no smoking if you want to work at the Cleveland Clinic. He also got into trouble with trying to push this with regards to over-weight employees and made some inappropriate comments. He had to apologize latter and back down. But over all I agree and it is time that we in health care put our mney where our mouth is.

  • Martha

    Hospitals have a right to ban smokers, I suppose, but this means fewer jobs I would consider applying for. And they talk about highly qualified applicants being turned off applying for jobs because of this policy – I am an Ivy League grad with a Master’s degree in Education! And I can honestly say I have never missed a day of work because of smoking.

    What’s next? Telling overweight people they can’t apply for work because they need to curb their appetites? Being overweight is a more serious health problem in the U.S. than smoking, in terms of hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.

    Fanatics, back off.

  • Michael C

    Note to Ivy League grad smoker who “never missed a day of work because of smoking”:

    1) Job related statistical finding do not support your anecdotal claim.

    2) Just wait. You will. Possibly big time.

    3) Degree’d in Education? Have you ever read a current full list of tobacco related diseases? Not just your usual emphysema, heart attack, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis.

    Also such beauties as increased risks for pancreatic cancer, gals – cervical cancer, bladder cancer, leukemia, circulatory problems including peripheral occlusions, strokes, impotence (as well as m.i.’s), wrinkles, ruptured disc (from coughing), at risk fetuses, increased risks of dementia, stroke, subtle neurological problems in off-spring, second hand smoke harms to family and associates, fire related tragedies, etc. etc. So when smokers’ children get sick from parental second- & third-hand smoking, who takes off work to take them to the doctor, hospital, stay home with them?

    For a more authoritative list, see the CDC’s website:


  • Michael C

    Yes, research finds: Smoking is related to increased absenteeism, lost productivity, and increased cost to employers.

    Impact of smoking status on workplace
    absenteeism and productivity

    Results—Current smokers had significantly
    greater absenteeism than did never
    smokers, with former smokers having
    intermediate values; among former smokers,
    absenteeism showed a significant
    decline with years following cessation.


    Workplace smoking related absenteeism and productivity
    costs in Taiwan

    Results: Using a conservative estimate of excess absenteeism from work, male smokers took off an average
    of 4.36 sick days and male non-smokers took off an average of 3.30 sick days. Female smokers took off
    an average of 4.96 sick days and non-smoking females took off an average of 3.75 sick days.


  • kathryn

    My father died of colon cancer 26 years ago. My grandmother died of colon cancer 22 years ago. My father-in-law died of colon cancer 2 months ago. I demand that all hospitals deny employment to people who eat red meat and other foods that have been linked to colon cancer. It’s only fair. Besides, red meat eaters are repulsive to those who practice vegetarian diets. We wouldn’t want to offend anyone by allowing people who practice unhealthy eating lifestyles to actually have a job. Sorry for the lady’s loss of her mom and to the administrator’s loss of family members. Your loss, however, is no greater than mine. The difference is that I am not out to seek revenge for my losses as the MHA is. Perhaps this administrator should seek help for her mental illness. Please see Dr. Siegel’s column today

  • Kevin

    “For Lynn Nicholas, president and CEO of the MHA, this is personal. “I have lost my own father and many, many of my beloved relatives to smoke and secondhand smoke,”

    Clearly this woman is not able to apply the proper level of discretion and personal detachment, to do the job she has been given. She exhibits an hysterical need to lay blame, deciding in spite of the facts; that smoking or second hand smoke alone cost her the loss of relatives. Ignoring the vast array of risk factors and combinations, including in large part genetic predisposition, which is quite likely a factor elevated in her case. She has manufactured internalized knowledge, that anyone with increased risk factors will be forced to live as she dictates or face her bigoted punishments. Meaning she also believes anyone exhibiting illnesses related to a risk factor, brought that illness upon themselves.

    How will she extend that reasoning into the realm of patient care, with a belief that many of those patients need to be blamed, provided guilt and with this story confirmation, she believes that they should also be punished by her personal court?

    How will this Public Health inspired and overly promoted atmosphere, ultimately effect patient care, of those it has been already decided, brought their ailments upon themselves?

    The answer to that should be blatantly obvious. We have returned to 1930s Germany and the Public health eugenics crowd are once again cheering enthusiastically.

  • Rando

    So if smokers can be denied employment for their
    personal habits, can non smokers be denied as well?

  • Michael C


    Please pay your respects to Louis Bantle, former President of U.S. Tobacco, who according to the WSJ “made dipping hip”. Which is to say, he became obscenely Palm Beach rich addicting kids to “starter” tins of Skoal lite. He is memorialized as a great Republican and patriot, “humanitarian” even.

    The WSJ, but not the NYTs, acknowledges in its obit that he died “after a long struggle with lung cancer and emphysema,” He preferred Kools to his own hustle.

    I hope you will extend to the Mass. Hospital Assn. your respect for their right to protect their patients, customers, employees and bottom-line from the predations of Big Tobacco and their happy boosters. (Got stock?)

    Sorry you are caught in the cross-fire. But you’re always free to quit. Or are you?

  • kathryn

    I am saddened that the patients will be denied the best medical care available when 20-25% of would-be future applicants are not permitted to join the staff at MHA. I would not entrust my own or a loved one’s health care to an organization that hires medical professionals based upon their smoking status rather than their talents. Perhaps MHA received one of those large grants from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation contingent upon enacting such a policy. Eugenics has reared its ugly head once more. One would think that previous experiments funded by the Rockefellers and others who helped the NAZIS at the start of WWII would have been sufficient to have sickened our country. We never seem to get enough of these crazies.

  • Rando

    Mike C…. Louie Bantle? He was 81 years old. I guess
    he`s just another smoker cut down in the prime of life.
    You`re right however ; smokers are free to quit and start
    living the way you think they should, anytime they please.
    It`s the new American way…live and make live.

  • michael C


    You miss the point.

    Big Tobacco profits mightily by hooking minors, using flavored and lower nicotine tobacco products. They often then ‘graduated’ to more powerful chew or cigarettes.

    Other industries’ profits are sucked off by Big Tobacco in the form of increased absenteeism, lost productivity, cleaning, fire and health insurance costs.

    Individual smokers and their families, of course, are the biggest losers financially and personally in this drug traffic.

    It is clearly in the best interest of non-tobacco related businesses to defend themselves from this predation. And of society to tax, regulate, promote prevention and treatment for tobacco addicts.

    Mr. Bantle by his anti-social actions as CEO did very well financially. He picked the pockets of smokers and dippers and left them and society to pick up the bill.

    Big Tobacco denied, lied and lawyered up to conceal the dangers of its products and deliberate marketing to adolescents. Likewise Bantle and his perjuring CEO brethern lobbied forcefully against regulations to curb their con.

    Bantle survived alcoholism and nicotine addiction to a ripe age, yes. The WSJ doesn’t report how bad his emphysema was or how long it lasted. But be assured he got the best care possible at smokers’ expense while enjoying the good life in Palm Beach.

    People live from a few years to decades with emphysema, which can and often is progressive. If its bad and you are not mercifully ‘taken’ by pneumonia or say, lung cancer or an m.i., you can survive many years as a respiratory cripple, ultimately in a wheel chair hooked up to an oxygen tank.

    It’s one of the worst ways to spend your Golden Years. That life is not a beach.

    FYI: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/emphysema-life-expectancy.html

  • Nick

    I don’t like people who drive cars, they are destroying our planet and ruining public health by belching noxious emissions from their vehicles. In fact, if you spend 30 minutes in an enclosed space with a car or truck engine running you will be dead. I haven’t even mentioned the 35,000 deaths every year that occur as a result of motor vehicle accidents. Also, the rise in obesity is directly linked to the number of miles driven every year, Therefore, I refuse to hire anyone who travels by car, bus, or airplane. Are you ready to turn in your keys Michael C ?

  • Nick

    I would respect the decision of hospitals and the MHA not to hire smokers once hospitals (1) stop serving junk food in their cafeterias (2) stop hiring overweight and obese providers (3) require all able – bodied visitors, patients and employees to use the stairs instead of the elevator (4) stop providing booze to alcoholic patients.

  • Kevin

    I am convinced that if this woman [and many like her] has an elevated risk factor [a self admitted genetic predisposition to smoking related diseases] she should face an identical hiring policy. We can’t have medical staff dying of lung cancer or heart attacks, it’s bad for business. What would the neighbors say.

    Now if we can get past that little hurdle [baby steps] we can move into the final stage of “Healthcare reform” and calculate which cultural [racial] groups exhibit the highest proportions of these deficient genes [the useless eaters]. So that we can get started applying the tattoos on their hands and distributing the Stars, they will be forced to wear on their clothes, as a safety measure in order that the superior people can be protected against dangerous exposures.

  • Ashley C

    employees are people not property, their personal lives are of no consequence to their employer. unethical, illegal, and discriminatory. Her ignorance is apparent and I wouldn’t work for her even if she allowed me to smoke. FASCISTS by definition. FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE COMMUNISTS AND I DID NOT SPEAK UP BECAUSE I WAS NOT A COMMUNIST. THEN THEY CAME FOR THE TRADE UNIONISTS AND I DID NOT SPEAK UP BECAUSE I AM NOT A TRADE UNIONIST. THEN THEY CAME FOR THE JEWS AND I DID NOT SPEAK UP BECAUSE I AM NOT A JEW. THEN THEY CAME FOR ME AND THERE WAS NO ONE LEFT TO SPEAK UP. This is the begining of the end for our “free” society. It does not matter that this is not concerning race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, it is the point that this is control over lifestyle and should not be tolerated. give them an inch and they will take a mile. they have no right to decide what is best for others. As adults we are all capable of making decisions for ourselves. If I want to smoke I know the risks and it is my choice.

  • Ashley C

    Michael C. enough. Get a job or a life. Absenteeism in Taiwan has no bearing in the United States.

  • lily

    I’m sorry that she lost somebody to cancer, but it seems she is letting her personal experience dictate the rules. Employers have every right to tell their employees what they can and cannot do on their property. But unless you are doing some thing illegal, they have no right to tell you what you can and cannot do outside of work hours or in the privacy of your own home. If they want the right to tell their employess what they can and cannot do 24 hours a day 7 days a week, they should be paying thier employees for 168 hours instead of 40. Smoking is a legal, person lifestyle choice that everyone has the right to make for themselves. If it is really only about a ‘healthy work enviromnent’ then why do they not have the same policy in place for people who are obese? Obesity leads to heard disease among other health issues. Or how about people who consume alcohol? At what point do you draw the line and not allow your employer to make your personal choices for you. Lots of people choose to do things every day that I do not agree with but that does not give me the right to tell them how they should live their lives.

  • Rando

    Mike C. I miss the point? You`ve got to be joking.You
    brought up Bantle ; I`d never even heard of him. What a
    recently dead, former C.E.O of a tobacco company has
    to do with a hospital refusing to hire smokers,regardless
    of their qualifications, is beyond me. When it comes to
    heath care workers( or any service I might seek)I`m really
    easy to please ; I like to have the most qualified people
    serve me. If the best doctor available is a three pack-a-
    day man, then so be it. Lifestyle choices don`t interest
    me in the least when it comes to services rendered ; ability is all that I`m after.
    Why a hospital( or any establishment) would choose to
    summarily dismiss 20% of the population, as unfit to employ, is beyond me.
    Legally, it appears they have the right to do so, which
    brings me back to my original statement. If someone can
    be denied employment for smoking, the flipside is, that
    someone else could be denied employment for not smoking.
    Or can you only deny those who make the “wrong” choice?
    Be careful. If you have two choices, and someone takes
    one of them away, you`re not left with one choice; you`re
    left with no choice.

  • Michael C


    If a provider chooses to hire non-smokers only and this constitutes a competitive disadvantage for their business it’s theirs to judge if the benefits out weigh the costs.

    As of now there are few if any legal barriers to governments and private employers police, fire departments to hire non-smokers over smokers. Smokers are free to seek jobs — or services — elsewhere.

    Some life, health and fire insurers, restaurants, car rental agencies, hotels, motels and B&B’s now often offer non-smoker services. Condo associations can now ban smoking in their domains as well.

    In the ‘old days’ non-smokers had no standing whatsoever to prevent smokers from polluting the common air. Big Tobacco dominated TV and radio advertising, bill boards, magazines etc. and used their financial muscle to punish media which dared to report how cigarettes kill. Lobbyists blocked FDA regulation for decades. Even the American Medical Assn was bought off despite the 1963 Surgeon General’s unequivocal report.

    By ‘choosing’ to smoke you tilt your life opportunities — for friends, lovers, health, employment, wealth, longevity etc. for good or ill.

    Employers retain the same privilege.

    FYI: AMA & Tobacco

    Both the AMA and individual doctors sided with big tobacco for decades after the deleterious effects of smoking were proven. Medical historians have tracked this relationship in great detail, examining internal documents from tobacco companies and their legal counsel and public relations advisers. The overarching theme of big tobacco’s efforts was to keep alive the appearance of a “debate” or “controversy” of the health effects of cigarette smoking.


  • Lily

    The problem with this policy is she is targeting one specific group of people. If you are going to put a hiring policy in place based on peoples personal habits at least be fair about it.

    Complications as a result of obesity is quickly becoming a leading cause of death in this country. Why are they not putting a policy in place that they will not hire people who are overweight? Walk into any hospital in the country, the majority of nurses are overweight, but that doesn’t create a ‘unhealthy work environment’??

    Lets face facts, the only result of this policy will be that people will lie when applying for a job. I would much rather be treated by a honest doctor/nurse than a liar.

  • Sheryl

    Although I can appreciate Ms. Nicholas’s personal prejudice against tobacco use, I do feel she is definitely out of line in choosing to discriminate against those who choose to smoke/chew tobacco. Tobacco use does not inhibit anyone’s ability to perform their job, but refusing to hire based on one’s bias is irresponsible, uncaring, and unkind. Does she really believe she’ll be able to force someone to quit smoking/chewing based on her dislike for their lifestyle? She won’t. It doesn’t work that way. Offering free smoking cessation programs for her employees is a positive service she could provide if she really wants to make a difference in someone’s life. Refusing to hire based on tobacco use will only continue to increase unemployment and some very well-trained medical personnel will be wasted. Does she also discriminate against race and sexual orientation? Ms. Nicholas, I believe you are a lawsuit ready to happen!

  • Rando

    Mike C… I agree with you 100%. If a provider wants to
    hire non smokers only, it`s up to them to judge the possible costs/benefits. Using the same logic, said provider should have the right to hire smokers only.

  • Watszmuhname

    this is so fuck up and discriminate.

  • Watszmuhname

    what kind of ceo are you if you are so discriminate?

    • Tweety123

      It’s about saving money. She doesn’t want to pay for chemo-therapy for people who knowingly gave themselves cancer.

  • Eharvey

    It is simple…It’s discrimination!

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