Nicotine Test: Md. Hospital Refuses to Hire Smokers

Smokers need not apply.

A hospital in Annapolis, Maryland has a new hiring policy that eliminates job candidates who smoke or use other tobacco products.

Anne Arundel Medical Center has run a smoke-free campus for years, and as of July 1 the facility rejects prospective hires who test positive for nicotine, just like it screens out drug users.

"Cigarette smoking is the largest preventable cause of death and poor health, so we know this is one is a clear association," Dr. Stephen Cattaneo said. "[The policy] makes sense and fits with the mission and the values of the hospital."

Candidates rejected because of the smoking ban are offered resources to help them quit and are eligible to reapply for jobs in six months if they then pass a nicotine test.

Neighbor Dennis McClearn Jr. said he thought the practice put people struggling with a medical issue at a disadvantage.

"It's unfair to discriminate against people and refuse them jobs just because of an addiction," he said.

The hospital is within the law, employment attorney Mindy Farber said.

"I think it's going to surprise people, particularly people who smoke, but I think [nicotine testing] is the next step after testing people for alcohol and testing people for drugs," she said.

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