Hospital Says Smokers Need Not Apply

From the signs prohibiting smoking cigarettes outside to the new salad bar, the message at Central Texas Medical Center is clear -- staying healthy applies to both patients and employees.

Now that approach is headed to the hiring process. Starting Sept. 1, CTMC will no longer hire any tobacco user. When the hospital screens job applicants for illegal drugs, they will also check for nicotine.

"Smoking is a preventable complication from aging and health and that's why we're targeting it," said Hospital Marketing Director Clay Destefano. He adds the decision comes amid rising insurance costs.

Non-smokers will qualify for lower insurance premiums in 2012. Current employees who use tobacco can keep their jobs but will not qualify for those savings.

Three years ago CTMC joined many other hospitals when they prohibited smoking cigarettes on their property. Now the decision to extend that smoking cigarettes ban to the hiring process puts them on a much shorter list with greater attention.

CTMC is not the first employer to stop hiring smokers. Companies such as Macy's, Scott's Miracle Gro, and the nationally reknowned Cleveland Clinic have already gone to tobacco free hiring.

"If you choose to smoke cigarettes that's your right," said DeStefano. "You know you can do that, but we also have a right not to hire you for that reason."

Plans are also underway to reward employees who lower their blood pressure and reduce body fat.