DMC won't hire smokers

Hospital joins others with no-nicotine hiring policies

Author: Mara MacDonald, Local 4 Reporter, @MaraMacDonald
Published On: Jun 13 2012 10:02:43 PM EDT
DETROIT -

Add the Detroit Medical Center to a growing list of hospitals nationwide that are making smoking a reason to lose out on a job.

Starting July 1 and affecting new hires only, the DMC will start testing anyone applying for a job for nicotine. Testing positive means no offer of employment.

"We want to be role models for the community and this aligns us with our parent company, Vanguard Health Systems, and their initiatives on safety and health for life," said Dr. Suzanne White, chief medical officer at the health system.

The DMC made its campus smoke free in 2007.

Already, Oakwood in Dearborn and Crittendon in Rochester have no-nicotine hiring policies in place, and legally, they can.

Twenty-nine states have laws in place protecting the employment rights of smokers. Michigan is not one of them, which means smokers have no legal grounds for filing suit. Federally, the government doesn’t recognize them as a protected class so there’s no help for smokers there.

Smokers at the DMC spoke to Local 4 about the new policy and said they’re nervous. While the policy only affects new hires it makes them wonder what the future holds. The DMC, like virtually every other health system, has made smoking cessation services available to employees and it’s not just about wellness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke causes 443,000 premature deaths a year and costs the country $193 billion in health bills and lost productivity.