Soon-to-be graduates may need to consider more than good grades, internships and what’s posted on their Facebook to have a chance at their dream job.
An increasing number of employers — primarily hospitals — won’t hire applicants whose urine tests positive for nicotine use, whether cigarettes, smokeless tobacco or even patches, USA TODAY reported.
The policies have sparked disagreement in the young adult community.
“Cigarettes are a legal product in the United States,” Sarah Donofrio, 23, of Pitman, N.J. says. “I feel like that is almost illegal to bar someone from a job for doing something that is legal but just morally frowned upon.”
Tobacco-free hiring policies, designed to promote health and reduce insurance premiums, took effect this month at the Baylor Health Care System in Texas and will apply at the Hollywood Casino in Toledo, Ohio, when it opens this year.
29 states and the District of Columbia passed smoker-protection laws. Some laws exempt non-profit groups and the health care industry, and 21 states have no rules against nicotine-free hiring, USA TODAY reported.
Molly Philbin, 18, of Santa Monica, Calif. says she disagrees with the policy but understands why employers are concerned.
“If I were the employer, I would be swayed one way if I thought the employee was going to smoke or abuse non-smoking laws while on the job, especially in hospitals where the cleanliness of the air does matter,” Philbin says. “But it is wrong to judge an applicant solely based on that. If it were cocaine — that would be another story.”
Each year, smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke causes 443,000 premature deaths and costs the nation $193 billion in health bills and lost productivity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says 19.3% of U.S. adults smoked last year, down from 42.4% in 1965.
“We’re trying to promote a complete culture of wellness,” says Marcy Marshall of the Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa., which begins its nicotine-free hiring next month. “We’re not denying smokers their right to tobacco products. We’re just choosing not to hire them,” she told USA TODAY.
Ronak Darji, 20, of Edgewater Park, N.J., says he has never heard of the policy and doesn’t think many other students have. If they did, he says they might change how they prepare for the job market.
“We’re trained for most of our education to tailor our personalities and resumes to be the type that would be acceptable for future employers, so those who really wanted jobs might have to weigh the pros and cons of getting a job or continuing the addiction,” Darji says. “But there are students that would not be bothered by such tests anyways, because marijuana is still rampant on college campuses even though most professional jobs already check for that.”
Danielle Roberts, 22 of Brigantine, N.J., says she has heard of the policy and believes people are becoming increasingly aware of it.
“I think it violates people’s rights to not hire someone if they’re using tobacco products, since they’re legal,” Roberts says. “But I do think they can put it in policy that people can’t use it at work.”
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