Have you heard about the latest trend affecting professionals in the healthcare industry? Many hospitals and medical institutions across the United States are refusing to hire individuals who use tobacco products. One of the biggest clinics in the country, the Mayo Clinic, is likely to have started this trend in 2007. Other major health care institutions, including the Baylor Health Care System in Texas, followed suit shortly after, banning tobacco use among employees in 2012. The Orlando Sentinel reported earlier this year that the Orlando health group, which operates seven different hospitals, implemented a tobacco-free hiring policy in April. Penn State University’s medical centers also implemented the same policy just two months ago.
According to these organizations, the goal behind implementing tobacco-free hiring policies is to improve the overall health of its workforce while reducing health care benefit costs and increasing productivity. Although this position may make sense to some, many e-cigarette advocates are pointing out that there is a thin line between wanting the best for your employees and dictating the way they live their lives. When did it become acceptable to treat tobacco products as an illegal substance? Many e-cigarette advocates are posing that question because of the widespread popularly of this new hiring rule. The truth is, everyone does things in their private life that may negatively affect their health. We all have our vices — some drink too much when they go out with friends, some overeat, and some do not exercise as much as they should. Regardless, those aren’t reasons to implement controlling policies in the workplace that essentially infringe on people’s freedoms.
As this new hiring policy becomes the standard among medical institutions, many e-cigarette users and advocates are wondering whether it will affect them. Will this hiring trend spread into other industries? Depending on what state you live in, the chances are no. According to an NY Times article written earlier this year, “29 states and the District of Columbia passed laws, with the strong backing of the tobacco lobby and the American Civil Liberties Union, that prohibit discrimination against smokers or those who use ‘lawful products.’” The downside is that most of these state laws exclude health care industries.
Fortunately for e-cigarettes users, these tobacco-free hiring policies should not affect them at all. E-Cigarettes contain zero or less than one percent tobacco and produce no actual smoke, marking these hiring policies irrelevant to e-cig users. In addition, e-cigarette users should feel even more at ease knowing that these tobacco-free hiring workplaces reference tobacco products and traditional cigarettes and do not mention e-cigarettes at all.