Smokers Need Not Apply, Says Penn. Hospital

Looking for a job in the medical field? Beginning in February at one hospital in Pennsylvania, smokers need not apply.

Geisinger Health System in Danville, Penn. will not hire smokers, starting on February 1. Pennsylvania is one of 19 states allowed to screen job applicants for signs of smoking, and the hiring move is not unprecedented: an Anchorage, Alaska hospital made the same decision in November of this year, while a Cleveland, Ohio hospital implemented a similar ban in 2007.

According to CNN, those who test positive for nicotine will be offered help to quit smoking and an opportunity to reapply in six months. A spokeswoman for the hospital said that secondhand smoke will not traced by the test.

Existing employees will be grandfathered in under the new policy; smokers currently employed are not at risk of losing their job.

The hospital says the move is to improve the wellness of their staff. It could also prove to cut health care costs among employees: some studies have shown that smokers pay $500-$2,200 more in annual medical expenses than non-smokers.

Increased productivity among staff could prove to be another bonus of the policy: studies have also revealed that as smoke breaks accumulate throughout the day, smokers wind up working less than their non-smoking counterparts.