News outlets reported that the big Pennsylvania health care company announced the decision, though the policy won't affect current employees.
CNN: Hospital: Smokers Need Not Apply
Geisinger Health System -- a facility located in the eastern town of Danville -- will institute its no-nicotine policy on February 1, 2012, said Marcy Marshall. Applicants that test positive will be offered help to quit and are encouraged to re-apply after six months, she said. ... Pennsylvania is one of 19 states that allow employers to screen job applicants for signs of smoking, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (Debucquoy-Dodley, 12/30).
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Hiring Trend: Tobacco Users Need Not Apply
The company said it would begin testing new hires for use of cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, snuff, nicotine patches and gum as part of its pre-employment physical process ... "Non-nicotine hiring policies are legal in 20 states, including Pennsylvania," said Marcy Marshall, spokeswoman for Geisinger, which serves more than 2.6 million residents in central and northeastern Pennsylvania and has nearly 15,000 employees (Smith, 1/1).
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pa. Company To Test Applicants For Nicotine
Geisinger is part of a national trend among hospitals and health systems, says Julie Kissinger, vice president for communications for the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania -- although that trend apparently has yet to reach Western Pennsylvania. Spokesmen for UPMC, West Penn Allegheny Health System, Butler Health System, St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon and Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Jefferson Hills all said they either ban or greatly restrict tobacco use on their campuses and offer programs for those who wish to quit smoking, but they do not test job applicants (Twedt, 12/30).
New York Daily News: Pennsylvania Hospital Won't Hire Smokers; New Yorkers Outraged
New Yorkers offered a two-word prescription for a Pennsylvania hospital that plans to nicotine-test would-be workers: Butt out (Kapp, 12/31).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.