University Medical Center to Stop Hiring Smokers

POSTED: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 - 11:42am

UPDATED: Monday, August 23, 2010 - 3:16pm

EL PASO - In a few months the “no smoking” sign outside University Medical Center will also apply to all job applicants, on or off the job.

"I think that's a great idea actually," said El Pasoan Priscilla Alvarez. Other El Pasoans we spoke with seemed to like the idea too.

In a recent memo, UMC CEO James Valenti announced a new hiring practice. It's the first of its kind at any Texas hospital. Anyone who uses tobacco, apparently even on their own time or at home, is automatically disqualified from a job with UMC.

"I think its great that they don't hire anyone who smokes! It's for our own health," said another El Pasoan, Margarita Bravo.

But it's not just about a healthy workplace or to keeping patients safe. Valenti says it's also about saving money: $3,400 for every employee who smokes. That's based on a CDC estimate on what smokers cost businesses each year in higher health costs and lost time. And while most people we talked to support UMC's decision, others wonder if it crosses the line.

“I think it's infringing on their rights,” said Sylvia Perez.

Like it or not, the new hiring policy goes into effect October 1st.

Valenti's Letter is attached below:

ValentiLetter.doc758.5 KB

Comments News Comments

No one should hire smokers. Smokers are mentally ill from tobacco addiction.

Banning smoking in buildings and in whole nations was derived from Nazi Germany. Hitler was the first to push an environmental agenda nationwide and banning "unhealthy" practices, like smoking. Nice to see those in El Paso that agree with a dictator and murderer like Hitler.

I agree that what a person legally does on their own time in their own home is nobody else’s business. If this is allowed what is to stop them from doing the same thing if you drink beer or wine, eat ice cream or don’t go to the same church as the company CEO? How are they going to police this; hire snitches to spy on you? Who is keeping an eye on the CEO? For all of those non-smokers that are agreeing with this just wait until this happens to you. I will say you were too stupid to see it coming

Alright then i can sue for disrimination against me for being a smoker. Its like saying i'm not gonna hire you because your purple.

So you can sue for race, gender, but you can't sue for being discriminated for being a smoker? Even if you do it on your off hours or off time at work.

Kudos UMC i can't wait for this to blow up in your face. Instead you should be taking the money and try to make people switch to e-cigs if your worried about their health.

So your not worried about your employees obesity level either or anything else but smoking. So whats next your gonna tell me on my off hours i cannot drink sodas at my own home or am i gonna get fired for that too. I understand these examples are a stretch but your violating my right to do what i want on my off hours.

If that worker because of medical issue linked to smoking is causing a problem and their not performing well then as a business you ahve a legal right to fire them.

its like the military can't ask if your gay and neither should a company ask me if i'm a smoker and get denied a job because of it.

The Military has reversed that policy. Within a few months it will be acceptable to be openly gay in the military.
As far as compairing smokers to gays. I believe smoking reflects more negatively on a company then being gay. Smokers also cost more money for employers as far as breaks and illnesses then others.
On the other hand, what about obesity, piercings, tattooes, and other life choices that may endanger our health? I am an overweight,tattooed,and pierced ex-smoker, so I'm not judging.

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