The Just Case for 'Get-Tough' Anti-smoking Policies

John Commins, August 22, 2011

While thumbing through the Internet recently I came upon a story from the Indianapolis Star about a new anti-smoking policy at Indiana University Health that extends a smoking ban for hospital employees during their off-campus break times.

The Star article called the ban “one of the most restrictive smoking policies in the nation.”

That is not accurate. Other health systems are far more aggressive. A growing number of providers, for example, have said they will no longer hire smokers, and will screen job applicants for traces of the vile weed. Now that’s restrictive! 

Sheriee Ladd, senior vice president for human resources at IU Health, tells HealthLeaders Media that the health system sees its ban as one that can be justified as patient safety issue.  

“We have told our employees that as the leading health system in the state, it is incongruent with our brand assurance to our patients and our commitment to wellness for our staff for us to continue to tolerate smoking, because of the irritants that come back into the workplace, not only for the employees but for the patients and their families,” Ladd said.

Of course, there is also an HR component at play. Employee smoking and obesity are among the biggest healthcare cost drivers for employers. If a ban on break-time smoking off-campus also encourages employees to quit smoking, everybody wins.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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