Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis wants to encourage smokers to quit, but only in the way the hospital says they should quit. Specifically, smokers who successfully quit smoking using electronic cigarettes will not be eligible for employment if they are continuing to use e-cigarettes to stay smoke-free. Moreover, smokers who are currently attempting to quit using e-cigarettes will not be eligible for employment, no matter how successful they might be in quitting or cutting down using these products.
Starting next July, Anne Arundel Medical Center will not hire anyone who uses nicotine in any form. According to an article in the Baltimore Sun: "Anyone who wants a job next year at Anne Arundel Medical Center — whether as a surgeon or security guard — will have to prove they don't smoke or use tobacco.
hospital's new hiring policy might be controversial, but it is legal in
Maryland and more than half of the United States. ... Anne
Arundel Medical Center, like a growing number of health systems,
universities and other businesses, will require a urine test for
nicotine use for all applicants starting next July. The policy ... covers not only cigarettes, but cigars, pipes,
snuff and e-cigarettes."
The Rest of the Story
This is not a public health policy. It is a moral crusade.
If it were a public health policy based on some sort of health principles, then it certainly would not penalize ex-smokers who quit using electronic cigarettes. In contrast, it would actually reward these individuals for having quit smoking and perhaps saved their lives.
It the policy were based on health principles, then it certainly would not exempt current employees. Clearly, the hospital doesn't care that much about the health principle, since it will continue to employ smokers with no questions asked.
If the policy were based on health principles, it would encourage smokers to quit, and therefore, it would reward smokers who are trying to quit using nicotine patches, nicotine gum, or electronic cigarettes, rather than exclude these individuals from employment.
If the policy were based on health principles, then it would certainly include other behaviors, such as those related to obesity, which have large health care costs and which set a "bad example." It would certainly include alcohol use as well.
The rest of the story is that this is not an employment policy based on health principles. Instead, it is part of a moral crusade against a particular health behavior (i.e., a vice) which is being punished in a discriminatory fashion.