To hire or not to hire smokers?
Writing for medical journals is a far cry from Washington partisanship. Still, the papers are unusually impassioned and down-to-earth. And the topic, as both make clear, is anything but academic - with real-world consequences affecting the lives, and livelihoods, of millions of Americans. For hospitals, "categorically refusing to hire smokers is unethical," writes one trio of authors, among them former White House health adviser Ezekiel J. Emanuel, now a vice provost and bioethics professor at Penn. The other group, while conceding that denying jobs to smokers may be unfair, at least in the short term, argues that "the severe harms of smoking" - an estimated 440,000 deaths a year in the United States - justify more draconian policies when easier interventions don't succeed.
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