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Do you agree with new MSHA policy to not hire smokers?

Staff Report • Mar 11, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Cigarette smokers who want to work at Mountain States Health Alliance need not apply for a job unless they are willing to kick the habit. MSHA has adopted a new employment policy that shuns all job applicants who are discovered to be tobacco users.

As Press staff writer Madison Mathews reported last week, each applicant is tested for nicotine as part of their screening for employment. If the applicant is found to use tobacco, his or her job application is put on hold for six months. They will be allowed to apply again if the are tested to be clean of tobacco.

MSHA said the six-month period allows applicants to take advantage of tobacco-cessation programs.

The policy only pertains to new hires and will not affect current MSHA employees who use tobacco products.

“The reason behind this is as health care providers we see every single day the devastating effects of tobacco use on people’s health and we believe that it’s our responsibility to set an example to promote a healthy lifestyle and promote a healthy work force,” Mountain States communications manager Teresa Hicks said. “This is our way of demonstrating that tobacco use has no place in the healthy lifestyle. We believe health care workers should be held to a higher standard in order to set an example for healthy behaviors.”

Hicks also said patients and family members have complained in the past about employees smelling like smoke. Reaction to the new policy has been mixed, but Hicks said most people are sympathetic to MSHA’s efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Tell us what you think. Do you agree with MSHA’s new policy to not hire employees who use tobacco products? Does the measure go too far?

Send your comments to Mailbag, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605-1717, or [email protected]

Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification purposes. We will print your responses on the Opinion pages in the coming weeks.

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