According to an article in the Birmingham News, the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) Health System is defending its new tobacco-free hiring policy by arguing that hospitals must set a good example and that hiring smokers encourages smoking.
UAB's hospital and medical system will institute a tobacco-free hiring policy beginning in July 2013. The health system will refuse to hire anyone who uses tobacco, including not only smokers but users of smokeless tobacco products as well. Because the policy is enforced using a cotinine test, it will presumably also apply to users of electronic cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy.
According to the article: "Ferniany [CEO of the UAB Health System] said it is important to set an example in the medical community. 'Smoking hurts health,' he said. 'It causes illness, and hospitals should not encourage that in any way.'"
The Rest of the Story
The UAB Health System is defending its policy on the grounds that hiring smokers sets a bad example in the medical community and that it encourages smoking. But by the same logic, hiring overweight people also sets a bad example in the medical community and it encourages obesity. However, UAB isn't planning to discriminate in hiring against overweight individuals. It is only going to discriminate against smokers.
Thus, by its own argument, the UAB Health System is admitting that it is setting a bad example in the medical community and is encouraging obesity.
Shame on UAB Hospital for setting a bad example and promoting obesity. A hospital should be helping to prevent disease and death, not cause it.