Hospital hiring ban: Are smokers getting picked on?

Gwinnett Medical Center says it will not hire smokers any more, reports AJC staffer Craig Schneider.

“By not hiring people that use tobacco products and helping current employees to quit, we are trying to lead by example,” Steve Nadeau, vice president for human resources, told Schneider.

What do you think of this new policy? Is the hospital picking on one group of people in an era of high unemployment?

Should other hospitals and medical facilities adopt this policy? Or should prospective employees have the freedom to lead their lives the way they see fit outside of work?

Is it outside of work when medical costs for all employees can increase because of smoking? But medical costs can increase for lots of reasons — should all of those new workers be shunned?

Beyond hospitals, do you think other employers will adopt a policy like this? Should they?

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143 comments Add your comment


July 7th, 2010
9:18 pm


The real problem I see between all the lines above is lack of discipline in this country.

A disciplined individual would not smoke, drink, eat till they are fat. A disciplined individual would take care of themselves thereby creating more freedom. Freedom from all the guilt and low self esteem.

A hospital generally requires a great deal of disipline to operate at a high moral and scientific level.


July 7th, 2010
9:20 pm

Societies always need to have a group they they can discriminate against and a plausible rationale that everyone believes is scientifically beyond dispute. Anyone who reads history knows this has always been the case. For the moment, it is the smokers’ turn to be fair-game.


July 7th, 2010
9:24 pm

Why smokers? Why not get rid of the real problem, naggers and muslims.


July 7th, 2010
9:41 pm

What next? Don’t eat bacon, don’t drink, be mindful of who you associate with, do as your told! Sieg Heil!!

s whiddon

July 7th, 2010
9:50 pm

Research this-OBESE people cost the health care system much more than smokers.
How many different diseases can you list that stem form OBESITY? Many!
Most obese people have several health issues going at once and many have had medical treatment from young to old age and death. Take smoking away and you still have the largest burden of them all draining the health care system(OBESE PEOPLE).

I need a smoke . . .Not!

July 7th, 2010
10:07 pm

Wow you smokers need a cig bad!

Hospital hiring ban: Are smokers getting picked on?

No they are not. Smokers stink!


July 7th, 2010
10:17 pm


July 7th, 2010
6:17 pm

What about banning the manufacturing of cigarettes? Make them roll their own. That should reduce smoking considerably. It’s the legal drugs that are the real problem in this country. The pols use the illegal stuff as a distaction.

Greg in the Highlands

July 7th, 2010
11:23 pm

Sure, ban smoking. Then ban the asthma inducing perfumes/colognes in which people bathe themselves. They are just as bad and cost much more in health care costs.


July 7th, 2010
11:30 pm

Plain and simple smoking = health problems= $$$$$$..I have learned this first hand and I would give anything to undo every puff I inhaled. I think they have every right to hire only nonsmokers. People should quit if they want to work there bad enough. Quiting is hard but so is getting over bypass surgery, lung cancer, COPD, etc. etc.

smoke cloud

July 7th, 2010
11:41 pm

hospital workers are cigarette addicts? that doesn’t match up. Why don’t they work in a tobacco factory instead and get their cancer their instead of stinking up the hospital?


July 7th, 2010
11:45 pm

R u kidding me? Did you really ask if smokers are being picked on?????

What about us non-smokers? In GA, we non-smokers are subjected to nasty smoke practically everywhere. Sure, sure, there is that ‘law’ that is supposed to separate smoke in resturants and stuff, but any non-smoker will tell you it doesn’t matter – the air circulates, period.

GA is, ONCE AGAIN, behind the rest of the Country regarding the issues. Even in conservative Florida, smoking is banned totally in all bars and clubs!

Smoking impacts everyone – not just the idiots the chose to light up. Second hand smoke kills….. not to mention that it STINKS!


July 7th, 2010
11:46 pm

And, if I see one more smoker throw a lit cigerette out of their car window I am going into some fit of road rage!!!!!!


July 8th, 2010
12:06 am

Per unit of volume, second hand smoke is more dangerous than smoke sucked through a filter.

There is a growing body of research that suggests that third hand smoke (the nasty stuff in your clothes and hair) is dangerous as well. What exactly is it that you think you’re breathing in when you smell smoke in someone’s clothes? If someone came from a chemical plant smelling like work, wouldn’t it be prudent to make them change and shower etc? Smokers have dangerous chemicals in their clothes and hair. If my caffeine habit started affecting people like that, I’m pretty sure I’d find a way not to crap on those whose space I have to share.

A couple more tidbits:

1) The air quality in this country is far superior to what it was 40 years ago. Why? Emission standards for cars and stricter laws for industrial waste. That’s not the cause of any increase in Asthma. Look it up.

2) It’s true, 50 years ago nobody cared about second hand smoke. It’s also true that 50 years ago, very few people gave rats patooky about their health and physical fitness; many athletes smoked; and the life expectancy was shorter.

3) A smoker or any other person’s constitutional rights stop as soon as the execution of those rights interferes with any other person’s rights. I think it was either the late 70’s or the early 80’s when the US Congress affirmed that “The right to breathe clean air supersedes the right to smoke at all times.”

4) It’s naive to think that smoking is a habit that can actually be kept to oneself.

Still Looking

July 8th, 2010
12:48 am

Smokers are lazy. When it is too cold or too hot outside to stand in the designated places away from the front doors of their workplace, they will find a secluded bathroom, supply closet or a private office of a fellow smoker to take their smoke break. And if they can’t get a cig in, they are as cranky as a tired two-year old.

If a person’s over eating, protectionless sex or other of the bad habits mentioned by smokers affected the quality of my surroundings at work I’d complain about them too.


July 8th, 2010
1:05 am

I cannot stand smoking and all of the crap with it but this is discrimination. Just like I can be fired in GA for being gay, which I am, this is crap. I find it funny that people on the AJC did not come out saying it was discrimination when the Employment Non Discrimination Act – ENDA was on here. The issue is that smoking is legal and the only thing any employer should be able to say is that you cannot smoke on our property or during work hours. Period… that is all they should have control over. As Americans we need to stop picking and choosing in regards to discrimination. Discrimination is garbage.


July 8th, 2010
2:59 am

Continue smoking, die & go away. It’s that simple…

smoke now

July 8th, 2010
7:51 am

Smokers are being discriminated against and should fight these rules in court! Smokers have the right to smoke whereever they want—if whining nonsmokers don’t like it, eat somewhere else or work somewhere else. It’s very simple. I smoke 2-3 packs a day and shouldn’t have to worry about where I’m going to smoke—it’s a legal right.


July 8th, 2010
8:46 am

I think some of you are missing the point.

While Gwinnett Med is a private org and has every right to set policy when employees are on their premise, they have NO right to dictate (yes, that’s what they are doing, dictating) what you do at your house, in your car or anywhere else you may be when not working for them (that’s a function of laws and government).

Try this as a comparison.

You’re not allowed to eat meat.

You must have all your teeth.

You cannot be a Democrat.

No sugar allowed, ever.

Do you see the correlation now?

While I am a reformed smoker (3+ years) and not pro smoking, I am and always will be PRO RIGHTS. As long as those of you that agree with this policy see it as nothing more than discouraging a “filthy habit”, we as a nation will continue to lose our personal freedoms one step at a time until we have the right to nothing.


July 8th, 2010
9:00 am

the hospital can certainly tell their employee’s they cant smoke while at work.what i dont think they can legally do is tell anyone what they cant do when they are off duty on their on time regardless if they smoke or not.i’m sure there is some lawyers that cant wait for the call to start legal action.
this is how the nazis started to power by attacking the most unpopular group first.
what’s next?the hospital going to require you to wear only company attire at all times so your a walking billboard every where you could happen.


July 8th, 2010
10:38 am

This is not realistic. However, I do agree that smoking should not be permitted on the hospital’s campus if that is what they want in order to present a healthful and clean facility. But if one wants to smoke, drink, eat fried foods, (the list goes on) in the privacy of their own homes, that is his or her business, not the employer’s. An employer should expect an employee to come to work sober, rested, and prepared for patient care. And the same rules apply for any other work place. But I do beleive this is just the beginning of other factors to give an employer an excuse to fire someone. Such as being overweight, drinking alcohol (on their own time ofcourse), gambling, ect. And in this economy, employers are seaching for all kinds of ways to cut costs. This is just a slippery slope to what is coming to invade our privacy…be afraid! Be very afraid!

Freedom Aint Free, It's Dead

July 8th, 2010
10:52 am


Actually, Georgia is a “right to work” state. That means an employer can fire an employee at any time for any reason, with or without a reason. “Right to fire” would be a more correct description. While it is illegal to fire someone for being gay or pregnant, for example, there is absolutely NO legal recourse when they do, as long as they claim it was for another reason. This rule is different, though, as it does indeed go beyond job description and requirements for hiring, and imposes 24/7/365 mandates on personal behavior in private time. Smoking is not illegal; therefore, it’s nobody’s business if somebody smokes on their own time on their own property.

I find it sad that people have so little regard for the right to privacy.


July 8th, 2010
11:20 am

Not hiring smokers I have a problem with – it does reek of discrimination. HOWEVER, if part of the hospital’s concern, as it is with many other employers, is the lost productivity of the frequent smoke-breaks – then THAT is the firable offense. And can be applied as easily to non-smokers. If you are constantly hopping out for a smokebreak, you either need to make up the time, or you get canned after appropriate warnings (verbal, written1, written2, fired), as a company would do for any other prohibited offense (coming to work drunk/hungover, not dressed per comp code, etc).

It sounds like Gwinnet already has a policy in place: no smoking on hospital grounds. Again, you break the rules, you get warned & written up. A smoker then can wait until their lunchbreak & go off-campus.

I am a non-smoker, and an asthmatic. I find the smell nasty, and if a smoker doesn’t “air out” sufficiently after taking their break, I have had an asthma attack start in the elevator. But my mom used to smoke, and I have a few friends who still do – considerately when around me or my son. What someone does on “their own time” IF LEGAL (smoking, drinkings, sex) is their own business. But once you hit the workplace, no can do if that’s the policy.

The Dogfighter Returns

July 8th, 2010
1:46 pm

It is a great policy. I would never take advice from an obese doctor or a dentist with rotten teeth.

work at gwinnett

July 8th, 2010
2:34 pm

For years at GMC in the ER smokers took numerous breaks and the wall by the ambulance bay was covered in cigarette butts even though there was a trash can 25 feet away. Initially, they were warned numerous times that a ban was coming partly due to the nasty habit of throwing butts on the ground and the time they spent away from their jobs.Our previous CEO was a smoker and occassionally I would see him picking up butts. The people I smoke with take their regular break and then step out to smoke 3-4 times in a 12 hour shift. Most cannot go 12 hours without smoking. The hospital also offers employees assistance getting help with quitting including prescriptions, so they are being proactive. The ban on the smoking on the property has been in affect for some time but the hospital has never enforced it. In the ER several supervisors still smoke now…it will be interesting to see what they do about that. NOW IT IS TIME FOR THE HOSPITAL TO ALSO COME UP WITH A PLAN TO DEAL WITH VISITORS WHO CONTINUE TO SMOKE ON THE PROPERTY. Hospital Security needs to make sending smokers off the property or to to their cars a priority as people continue to smoke at the benches around the ER entrance and NO ONE SAYS ANYTHING TO THEM.

Smoke cloud

July 8th, 2010
4:00 pm

There are people in my office that cannot go one hour without going out of the building to smoke. They are out there all day, smoking at the front door and throwing butts all over the ground. What a bunch of lowlife!


July 8th, 2010
4:15 pm

It is a free country. Smoking is NOT illegal. Stay out of peoples business.

Hiring boss

July 8th, 2010
6:26 pm

I wouldn’t consider hiring a smoker. Their stink alone would pollute the office plus they waste too much time on smoking breaks, coughing, etc.


July 9th, 2010
12:08 pm

Troggie, I’m surprised after that intense, seven-paragraph wank in which you praise yourself so highly, that you’re not in need of a post-coital smoke.

Cute. Actually, I’ve never understood why people smoke after sex. Do you need calming? That doesn’t make sense. Why ruin the afterglow by stinking yourself up? It’s just weird. Chocolate after sex? That I understand.


July 9th, 2010
12:15 pm

I think some of you are missing the point.

Really? How about 90% of the posters on here? They have no real concept of rights.

While Gwinnett Med is a private org and has every right to set policy when employees are on their premise, they have NO right to dictate (yes, that’s what they are doing, dictating) what you do at your house, in your car or anywhere else you may be when not working for them (that’s a function of laws and government).

This is true, except that smoking cannot be left at home. If it could be, you would be absolutely right.

Try this as a comparison.You’re not allowed to eat meat. You must have all your teeth.You cannot be a Democrat. No sugar allowed, ever. Do you see the correlation now?

No. Go back to my previous posts to see why not. The items you mentioned above are not causing harm to my co-workers (hold the Democrat jokes). My not having all my teeth does not injure or affect anyone around me as long as I do my job. Your smoking does. My not having all my teeth is only injurious to me and my chances of getting a good date. Your smoking is polluting the air we both breathe.

See the non-correlation?

Again, I say, if smokers could leave their habit at home or in their cars, this would be a non-issue. But they can’t.


July 9th, 2010
12:26 pm

All of you non-smoking righteous thugs, need to get a life. Like most smokers, I wished I’d never started. But since that isn’t the case, go attack the cigarettes industry, about enhancing the nicotine in the tobacco leaf. You fools are so hard up. Try running your own life, and qluit screwing with other people.

Seriously? You are blaming the tobacco companies for your addiction that you cannot shake? Millions of people quit smoking every year, some with no medical assistance. How come they can do it, and you can’t?

How are we “hard up”? Why is it when anyone has an opinion regarding something that is bad or dangerous that affects people other than the addict, addicts whine and say they are being picked on?

If smoking was unquittable, I’d see your point, and even feel some sympathy for you. I really would. I do believe the tobacco companies have perpetrated a serious scam on smokers, which makes all the more sense that you’d be mad and not wanting to give them any more of your money.

Where has personal responsibility gone? I admit it makes me angry. If your vice had no effect on me, I’d happily leave you to it. I am all about individual rights and freedoms. But smoking affects others around you, and you can rationalize it away all you like, but it doesn’t change that.

Ban Now

July 9th, 2010
5:00 pm

The federal government needs to impose a total ban on the use of all tobacco products. I’m tired of having to deal with all these rude, dirty, inconsiderate smokers at bars and at work.

Baja K

July 9th, 2010
8:24 pm

Too bad that the hospital doesn’t check staff for exposures to pesticides, dioxin-producing chlorine, radiation from cell phones or tobacco fertilizers, antibiotics from non-organic meat and dairy, and so forth.
If they just test for cotinine (a component of nicotine), how is that used to determine if one smokes or not considering all the nicotine patches and gums and nasal sprays etc.?

Most hospitals are drenched in the chlorine industry…pharms, plastics, disinfectants AND the insurers that own billions of dollars in stock in Big Chlorine. That explains, perhaps better than anything why hospitals are ARBITRARILY focusing on people’s “lifestyle” and ignoring industrial health harms.

Baja K

July 9th, 2010
8:34 pm

One reason tobacco has been used for ten thousand years is that it promotes alertness. It is also an appetite suppressant and digestive reliever. Those things seem to be good things for an employee…and employer.

BUT…since most cigarettes are adulterated with pesticide residues, dioxin-producing chlorine additives, radiation from still legal use of certain fertilizers, and hosts of untested and often toxic non tobacco ingredients, the benefits have been overshadowed (though they still exist) by the adulterants.
A proper hospital, with no conflicts of interests with the cigarette industry via chlorine, pesticides, pharms (suppliers of tobacco pesticides AND additives), and their insurers and investors, might prefer smokers OF PLAIN TOBACCO over others. A proper hospital would not let a Marlboro or Newport in the door.

Smoking rights

July 10th, 2010
5:49 pm

I work at Grady hospital and smoke sometimes 2-3 packs per day. I should be able to smoke whenever I want outside and keep my job. If they put this dumb rule in at Grady and I get fired, I’ll sue for big money. Smoking is a right—it’s legal.


July 11th, 2010
7:08 am

BRAVO to GMC,!! after all IT IS a HEALTHCARE facility , if you want to smoke, your life away, that’s your business, and as far what “considered” said, NO ONE has ever DIED from second hand FAT !!! It has been decades since the Surgeon General told us SMOKING IS A HEALTH HAZARD , how many years does it take for the message to sink in ? Yes it is a free country, and you are free to commit slow suicide ,by smoking


July 11th, 2010
7:13 am

Smoking rights.. if ,indeed ,you smoke 2-3 packs A DAY you DO NOT WORK anywhere!, WHEN would you have the TIME??? !! 40-60 cigarettes a day, did you FAIL MATH ? even on a 12 hour shift that equals FIVE per hour !!


July 12th, 2010
9:59 am

Apparently Mr. “Smoking rights” thinks that his cigarette addiction entitles him to a tremendous amount of additional break time. Balderdash. Nobody “has to” smoke. If you get yourself addicted to something that prevents you from doing your job, you deserve to lose your job.

no rights

July 14th, 2010
12:15 am

smoking rights? get real—the lazy smokers at my office take 6-8 breaks per day, 15-20 minutes each to smoke and just waste time. they should be fired, but several are fat women and minorities and they would sue for “discrimination.”

The Boss

July 16th, 2010
7:59 am

I tolerate smokers working for me. However smokers better keep it to the 10 minute break in the morning, lunch hour, 10 minute afternoon break and off the property. If a smoker can’t handle that then go work for someone else. If found in repeated violation of these simple rules, then I recommend termination as I would do with any other employee, smoker or non-smoker. In this currently economy I got ten or more people wanting your job. So go ahead and take that break on my dime.

Donot Buyit

July 20th, 2010
11:28 pm

I think this hospital should concentrate on hiring people who can read before worrying about one’s personal life. So many people crying about 2nd hand smoke. The issue is that they are asking about your personal lifestyle on the job application. There is no smoking on the campus. That is a non issue. Chubby people move very slowly. Is that not a loss of productivity? You would rather work with someone slow as Xmas than someone who smokes in their own home? I do not buy it. You are not having an honest discussion or you cannot read. The intolerance in Atlanta, Georgia blows my mind. I am glad that I moved away before people became this way.


July 27th, 2010
4:12 am

Smokers can cry me a river. Smokers have higher medical costs than nonsmokers, higher absenteeism rates, are less productive and are constantly interfering with the business flow by taking an exhorbitant number of smoking breaks to feed their filthy, toxic habit. Smoking kills, smokers know it and still insist on committing suicide-by-smoking, and still insist on stinking up the workplace with the noxious tobacco odor that reeks from their hair and clothes. I applaud the hospital for deciding not to hire smokers in the future.

Smoking’s for idiots, and society isn’t going to cut stupid people any slack anymore.


August 17th, 2010
12:07 pm

I think it is wrong. It is an issue of rights being denied. Our country got started by people coming from other countires so they could have the rights. And not just one group of people telling them what they can do. You can’t discriminate against, race, or gender, but it is okay to discriminate against smokers, anyone who has a felony, bad credit, etc. Even though companies are not suppose to they do discriminate against older workers too. I used to smoke but no longer do. I try never to stay at hotels that ban smoking, because it’s just not right to charge the outragous amounts of money they charge to have to leave your roon to smoke. Americans are losing more rights everyday. It seems only illegals have any rights.


August 17th, 2010
12:09 pm

One more comment. I know of alot of employees who do not smoke, drink or anything certain people think are bad who are out alot more than any smoker I know and are running to the Doctor for any little sneeze. It is not just smokers who run up health care costs.